Believable Characters, Part 12

Here we go again with this fascinating discussion 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)

Todays personality is ISFJ, or THE PROTECTOR, according to Keirsey. The protector is consistent, friendly, conscientious, and precise. The want to be of service and minster to others. They long to guard people against the pitfalls and perils of life and make sure everyone is secure. They find great satisfaction in caring for others, and long to be seen as dependable.

These people make up a large part of the population, about ten percent. They handle disability and neediness in others better than any other personality type, and go about their duties quietly and diligently. They don’t mind being under-appreciated. They are not open and talkative except to those closest to them, and this can sometimes be seen as coldness or stiffness, when in reality they are quite warm-hearted and sympathetic. They have a strong work ethic and are wiling to work long hours, forsaking play time. Because of this, they are frequently over-worked and misunderstood. But they are humble to the core and submit to what’s given them.

Famous ISFJ’s are Barbara Bush, William Shatner, Jimmy Stewart, and Johnny Carson. In fiction, Melanie in Gone with the Wind, Snow White, Bianca in Taming of the Shrew, and Ophelia from Hamlet are ISFJ’s. 

Excellent career choices for the ISFJ character include tech support, secretaries, bookkeepers, paralegals, nurses, and veterinarians. If you need one of these in your novel, they’ll come out extremely life-like if you model them after the ISFJ.


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