Believable Characters, Part 7

I’m continuing the heady notion of creating believable characters using the Myers-Briggs core personalities. I’m pulling from several sources, but mostly Jeff Gerke’s book Plot vs. Character and David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me II

You remember the four parts:

1.  Extrovert (E) or Introvert (I)
2.  Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N)
3.  Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
4.  Judgment (J) or Perception (P)

Today we’re covering INTJ (someone who veers towards introvert, intuitive, thinking, and judgement). Keirsey calls this person THE MASTERMIND. They are excellent at planning operations and contingency planning. Masterminds have a Plan A, but are always prepared to switch to Plan B, C, or D if necessary. They love to study science and technology. They are pragmatic and skeptical, and see themselves as ingenious, autonomous, and resolute. They trust reason, seek knowledge, and are prone to practice strategy far more than tactics or logistics. They love a great schedule. “Cost-effectiveness” is their motto.

Masterminds are rare in society, making up maybe one percent, and are rarely encountered outside their office or laboratory. They don’t want to be the leader of any group, but will do a fine job if thrust into it. They are open-minded and will entertain new ideas or new procedures. Decisions come easy, and they have a drive to complete every project. Others tend to see INTJ’s as cold and dispassionate, but they’re just taking their tasks seriously. Indifference or criticism from others doesn’t bother INTJ’s in the least. 

INTJ’s want harmony and order in their homes, but want their mates to be independent and strong-willed. Selection of a mate is a rational process, and they will not waste time on a second date if they realize the relationship won’t work. They rely on their head, not their heart, to make decisions. They have a strong need for privacy, and aren’t very outgoing or emotionally expressive, but they can be deeply emotional, even romantic, once they have found a person worthy of the affection. 

Famous INTJ’s include Arnold Schwarzeneggar, C. Everett Koop, General Colin Powell, Jane Austin, and Stephen Hawking. From fiction, Ensign Ro Laren from Start Trek: The Next Generation, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and Gandalf the Grey from Lord of the Rings are all INTJ’s.

Masterminds are outstanding in scientific research or business executives, so if you need a lab researcher or a computer programmer in your novel, you’ll want an INTJ. If you need a lounge singer or a CEO, look elsewhere. Remember that, human nature being what it is, even people within the INTJ camp are going to be different from one another. Comparing Jane Austin with Arnold Schwarzeneggar, I’d have never guessed they were the same personality type. These typings are generalities. Once you plug in backstory, quirks, and flaws, you’ll come up with a unique character for your novel. But if you use an INTJ in your novel, remember they’ll always crave alone time, use facts more than feelings to make decisions, and will look at every possibility before making plans. 

We’ll cover another personality type next time around.


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