Wednesday, April 02, 2008

myers-briggs for character development

Whenever I share pages of The Secret to Love, typical feedback about my narrator is that she's removed—somewhat cynical. Ironic. This isn't the first time I've come across this sort of critique of my characters. I like writing from the POV of the ice queen. My mother is an ice queen. At times, I too can be one. It's my alter-ego.

In Myers-Briggs, though, I'm an INFP. That's a healer/idealist if you buy the Keirsey spin on it. Introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving. Romantic doormats. Women who love too much. Blah, blah, blah. But that's not who I write about. Who I write about are INTJs, it turns out. At least that's what this online test indicated.

Frances is the quintessential scientist. Rational, scientific, judgmental. And she's married to another INTJ. Why so many INTJs? What's the appeal?

Well, if the process of writing a novel involves following a depth of inquiry, then I must confess that the enigma behind INTJ looms large for me. I have often flirted with the idea of becoming a pragmatist (or as a college roommate once put it, having an interest in having an interest). And at various times of my life I've sought structure to the point of self-alienation—again, it was play-acting.

Following Frances down the garden path, trying to get inside of her, pry her open—it's intriguing. But, here I run into the danger of that old saw, imitative fallacy. Risking writing a "boring story about a boring man." My prose, through this POV, has a tendency to be pedantic and snarky if I'm not careful. It's a rhythm that gets going. Ponderous. Laborious. Sometimes I just want to slap.

The best thing about being an INFP though? We're the goddesses of the Myers-Briggs sectors. And as such, we can shape our characters however we see fit.

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