Oh, no. Not another series… Believable Characters Part 1

Yep, it’s that time again. Time for me to devote the next 16-20 posts to a single topic–of my choosing–that I find interesting. Hopefully, you’ll also enjoy it. Deep thought goes into choosing these series. (Actually, it’s whatever I’m struggling with at the moment and feel the need to study more in-depth.)

This quarter, I’ve been struggling with absolutely everything. Writing is no longer fun for me. I’m vacillating between panic mode, compulsive eating mode, and it’s-all-rubbish mode. Mostly, I’m staying in the it’s-all-rubbish mode, and that’s a pretty rough place to be. To be honest, I’ve opened the file that holds my novel at least six times in the last four days, and haven’t done a thing to it. I get all woozy feeling and shut it down before I faint.

So it’s time to get my mind back on track. Time to get back into my story. Time to dig into what the experts say and hope to find some inspiration. 

This series’ expert is Jeff Gerke, from Where The Map EndsMarcher Lord Press, and FictionAcademy.com. I picked up his book Plot vs. Character a while back and blitzed right through it. Twice. Now it’s time to pull some things out to share with you (and hope that some of it sticks in my brain long enough to get it into my novel). The focus will be mainly on creating believable characters. Gerke depends heavily on the Myers-Briggs personality test and the book Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey. 

The first step in creating a believable character is to begin with a core personality. Myers-Briggs (MB) says there’s 16 of ’em. The Thompson Concept says there’s eight, and I’ve heard there are other systems that come up with different numbers. But I’m sticking with MB because that’s what Gerke did. (By the way, we won’t actually get to Gerke’s text for awhile because there are other things to look at, first.)

So let’s dig in to the first MB personality type and figure out what to do with it in a novel. There are eight parts to a personality, according to MB. Before we can play with them, we need to know what they mean. Then we can mix and match to come up with a core personality that’s believable. After that, we add the extra quirks, flaws, and idiosyncrasies. These eight parts are four sets of opposites. People either veer toward one end or the other. These four parts are:

Extrovert (E) or Introvert (I)
Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N)
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
Judgment (J) or Perception (P)

According to the MB system, every person has a combination of these elements. When you mix and match every possibility, you end up with 16 core personalities. And that’s where the fun starts. 

I’ll take my time over the next umpteen posts to look in-depth at these combinations, what they mean by themselves, and what fun you can have mixing and matching when creating characters for novels. Then we’ll dig into Gerke’s book and see what he says to do with these characters once we’ve built them.

For what it’s worth,


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