Believable Characters, Part 13

We’re so far into this discussion, I probably don’t need an intro anymore. Here’s the important stuff: Jeff Gerke’s Plot vs. Character and David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me II

Today we’re studying the ESTP, or the guy who is extroverted, sensory, thinking, and perceiving. Keirsey calls this dude THE PROMOTER. He’s hands-on, action-oriented, fun yet practical, and flexible. In the same way ISTP’s operate instruments and machines, the ESTP operates people, maneuvering them in the direction they need to go. 

ESTP’s make up ten percent of the population, so you can put plenty of these guys in your story. He is witty and clever, bringing excitement to even mundane events. He always has tickets to the latest shows or sporting events, he knows the best restaurants (where the waiters know his name), and he has a hearty appetite for the finest things in life: wine, expensive cars, fashionable clothing. He’s attentive to others and smooth in social settings. He knows exactly what words to say, when to say it, and what everybody’s name is. He’s so in tune with people that some mistakenly believe he has empathy. Reality is that he’s really good at reading people’s faces and body language. He watches people, collecting data to use for his own purpose: sell the customer. 

The Promotor is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goal. He’s an excellent troubleshooter and negotiator (or used car salesman). He’ll find what works to achieve his goals and toss out traditions or moral niceties that don’t work. Usually, follow-up details get lost in the thrill of victory, so he needs someone to come in behind him and finish the job. They make great defense lawyers, industrialists, and real estate developers. Unfortunately, if their desire for excitement isn’t met, they may channel their energies into antisocial activities (like con artistry).

The Promoter is rarely interested in long-term commitments, and usually family becomes a second priority. He’s looking for the pay-off, the gain from their investment. If it’s not apparent, he’ll move on, leaving behind an ex who feels like a negotiable commodity. His kids love the lavish birthday parties and fancy new toys he’s eager to bring home, but are usually less enthusiastic about being pushed into competitive sports, where winning is all that matters. The more exciting and dangerous the activity, the more the ESTP likes it: surfing, skiing, racing, rock climbing, sky diving. He’s got a low tolerance for anxiety and will run from any relationship that shows signs of tension, so if you need a character in crisis, make your ESTP character marry a drill sergeant. Sparks will fly!

Some famous ESTP’s include Teddy Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Mike Tyson, Jessica Alba, Lucille Ball, and Madonna. Fictional ESTP’s include Sonny Corleone from The Godfather, Bart Simpson, and Mystique from the X-Men.


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