Silly Sunday: I Totally Sort My Characters! (Wanna Join Me?)

Hey, guys! Welcome to today’s Silly Sunday! Today is going to be a writerly silly post because I want it to be.

A lot of writers use MBTI tests to figure out their characters. I do it, too, because it’s helpful for having a set of criteria to use as a baseline. How your character lives up to their classification and how they deviate from it are a really good way of understanding them and making sure they’re focused. That’s the problem with characters being at the whim of a writer; sometimes, the writer needs a character to do something, but that’s not what the character would do. And, of course, characters don’t have the freedom to be as unpredictable as a human being; narratives just aren’t as random as real life. Having things written down, a checklist or list of behaviors that fall in line with the character you’ve created, is a really easy way of keeping track of what your baby would do.

But… sometimes the MBTI is too restrictive for me. Hedy, for example, was all the positives of one and all the negatives of another. She cares about people, but isn’t all that sensitive. She is introverted, but not shy (which is something a lot of personality tests seem to not realize is a thing). She is analytical, but also very motivated by her emotions. No matter how often I took the test, I couldn’t find the right configuration. Nothing felt right.

Except I knew her Hogwarts House. Or, at least, I thought I did. She is bold, almost to the point of recklessness. In order to save the people of Leyton, she puts herself under ridiculous strain and, on occasion, in danger. She is intelligent, yes, questioning everything, but only because she has to in order to achieve her goal. She follows her gut. She always does what she thinks is right. You know where I’m going with this. I was sure she was Gryffindor.

But then I went down to my favorite Sorting Hat tumblr — the BIBLE of Sorting Hat psychology — and had a really good think. And it came to me: Henrietta Warwick is a Slytherin. She is a loyalist rather than an idealist, which narrows her down to Slytherin or Hufflepuff, and she constructs a series of rules and mores to fill in the gap between her moral system and the world. She is, of course, fiercely ambitious, as well, but… basically, Hedy lives her life by the notion of caring for her people and she will do whatever it takes to do that.

You see how awesome this Sorting Hat Bible is? It’s basically a personality test that narrows everything down to two things: what motivates a character and how they go about achieving their goals. And once you understand those things, everything else just sort of falls into place.

Where can you see this thing? Why… HERE, of course! That page is just the basics. From there, it goes even deeper. Have fun, y’all!


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