Believable Characters, Part 15

Once more, let’s look at building believable characters using the good stuff found in Jeff Gerke’s Plot vs. Character and David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me II

Today’s personality is the ENTP (extrovert, intuitive, thinking, perceiving), or who Keirsey call’s THE INVENTOR. This dude is ingenious, outspoken, easily bored by routine, clever, and change-oriented. He’s the guy that can build the prototype of a device to make systems more efficient. He creates gadgets and mechanisms for the rest of the world. He started when he was a kid, and gets such a kick out of it he never quit. 

These guys are rare, making up only two percent of our population, so use them sparingly in your fiction. They are intensely curious and probe all the possibilities. The harder the problem, the more they love it. Chaos theory is pure joy to these guys. Tradition, or “the way we always do it” means nothing to the ENTP’s of the world. They’re always looking for a better way of doing things, new procedures, new activities, new projects. Ideas are valuable only when they make possible actions and objects. “It can’t be done” is a challenge that must be met with “I can do it.” 

Because of their confidence in their own ability to solve any problem, Inventor’s often jump into a task without preparing adequately. They’re quick, both verbally and cerebrally, and love to argue, playing devil’s advocate sometimes just to confuse those around them. They avoid routine, which causes restlessness. They are basically optimists, but setbacks and inconveniences will tick them off. They have little patience with those they consider unintelligent, and aren’t afraid to say that out loud.

In relationships, the Inventor is capable of a close bond but will choose carefully those select few who are worthy of this devotion. They are quick to spot kindred spirits, but are oblivious to the rest of society except as an audience. It can be difficult to get this guy’s attention if he’s not immediately aware of you. To get his attention, present him with a problem. In conversation, be straight forward. No games (he’ll win), no pulling rank (he’ll put you in your place), and no apologies (he’ll dismiss you as unworthy). 

Worthy career choices for the ENTP include computer science, financial advising, systems designer, computer analyst, and strategic planner. You won’t find a happy ENTP on an assembly line or working as a bookkeeper. Famous ENTP’s include Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Alexander the Great, and Weird Al Yankovick. Fiction ENTP’s include Chandler Bing from Friends, “Q” from Star Trek, Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, and Garfield the Cat.


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