If I think about the characters I came up with in my mind so far, I usually get a pretty big list: (Gyvaris (ENTJ), Martha (ENFJ), Adam (INTJ. It's hard to describe that you're constantly seeing dead people from the future), Anon (ISTP) Anon Requiem (ISTP), Amrar (ISTJ), Cephit (INFJ), Koldryd (ESFJ, he's a brass dragon, what did you expect?), that lizard guy I never made a name for, Aial (INFJ), Iris (ISTJ), Horus (ISTJ), The GM (ESTJ), Saphire and Ryn (ESTJ) ) 15, not too shabby.

The problem comes with their personalities:

  • Aial and Koldryd share the same "neutral good", helps those around him, kind and understanding type.
  • The GM, Anon and his Requiem stand are toxic ideological extremists that have no life or personality besides defending their beliefs.
  • Amrar and Adam are both reclusive, moody but clever figures who have to grow up to their role as a leader/hero.
  • Depending on the iteration, Saphire has the same personality as Iris and Ryn.
  • Ryn and Iris are both "tries to be tough to hide her pain" characters with sibling issues.
  • Cephit, again, depending on iteration, can either be similar to Iris or Martha.
  • Horus and Gyvaris are unique (because they're stolen), and Lizard Guy... He doesn't have a personality right now.

There are minor deviations in characters but they're fundamentally just recolors of a few archetypes.

Whenever I try to go out of my boundaries, I arrive back at where I started. Even when I straight up steal characters, they either become Anons or Adams, or just flanderized caricatures.

I feel like this restricts my options in the story. And in all honesty I just want a solid way to meaningfully diversify my already existing palette. How can I do that?

Update: Oddly enough, I struggled a lot with the Myers-Briggs test and it led to some inconsistencies, I really should look into it again in the future. The meanings of the abbreviations can be found here: https://www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html

  • 2
    This question is pretty similar: writing.stackexchange.com/questions/38520/…
    – Cyn
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 22:35
  • 2
    This one isn't a duplicate but you might find some of the answers useful: writing.stackexchange.com/questions/38659/…
    – Cyn
    Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 22:36
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    What do you mean by "of course"?! This chart is by no means a standard, or even something universally accepted as being "true" or useful in some way. Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 20:00
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    @Mephistopheles And that "model" is just marketing that doesn't really mean anything. I think that's Galastel's point. No one truly fits into just one of those personality types, so there's no point in using them for, well, anything.
    – user91988
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 20:45
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    @liljoshu That is not correct in the slightest. The Myers-Briggs is widely regarded by psychologists to be pseudoscience. It has issues with poor validity, poor reliability, measuring categories that are not independent, and not being comprehensive. It is basically utter hogwash. Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 3:01

9 Answers 9


You talk of your characters as one or two basic characteristics, and that's it. That's where your problem is. There is more to a person than a short tag. Think about your friends. Chances are, you can describe them all as "lawful good", or "friendly geek", or whatever kind of people you surround yourself with. But each is much more than one tag, right? Each has a whole set of character traits; each has their unique history, unique view on things, unique way of acting; each is a unique person.

As an example, here are some characters I used to play in an online text-based RPG (a MUD) many years back. All would be classified as lawful-good, but look at what made them different:

  • Alpha was a young woman from an affluent family. She rebelled against her parents' expectations from a girl, and joined the army. Having grown up in a port city, she spoke like a sailor - using both naval metaphors and colourful language; a rebellious choice, since she certainly had the education to speak properly. Based on the same state of mind, she despised grandstanding and snobbishness. Underneath this façade, Alpha hid a bundle of insecurities about her parents maybe being right to some extent about some things, in particular about being able to find a husband while not being a "proper lady".
  • Bravo was a minor nobleman, also a soldier. (See a commonality here? You might think they're the same person, only look how they aren't.) He didn't rebel against anything - he knew what his place in the world was, what his duty was, and he did just that. Consequently, his attitude was always calm and patient. Where Alpha was impulsive, Bravo thought things through. Where Alpha made a choice and ran with it, and then faced the consequences, Braco agonised over conflicting duties, turning them in his mind until he found the right path. He was also a family man, with a wife and kids, contributing to the whole "conflicting duties" thing.
  • Charlie was a ranger rather than a soldier. While not too different in essence, his loyalty wasn't to "king and country" but to his comrades and company leader. He was also a dreamer, unlike the previous two characters: he wrote songs, and had "Plans" for the future. He wasn't actually very good at the whole "ranger" thing - he didn't lack courage or fighting skill, but when he needed to guard something, or scout, or perform some other task where the mind might wander, his mind did just that - he'd be thinking of his fiancée in great detail and rather forget everything else.

On the face of it they're all the same. When you delve a little deeper, they're not the same at all. They might all cite "protecting people" as their motivation for bearing arms, but in its details their motivation is different. In the same situation, they would take different actions. They would respond differently to the same stimuli. Some of their goals are the same, some are different. Coming from different backgrounds, they speak differently and see things differently. And so on.

Which is exactly where the answer lies: you need to give your characters more flesh, more development. Delve deeper into who each of them is. Each character is not a couple of tags - they are a person. Only once your characters are fleshed out enough, can they be different.

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    I like the structure of this answer, but the only stand-alone characterization is Alpha’s. Both Bravo and Charlie are described in contrast to others. Can you reword their descriptions to avoid mentioning Alpha?
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 18:09
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    @Dúthomhas: If you remove the references to previous characters or their properties, you get the standalone characterizations.
    – celtschk
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 18:53
  • Yes, that is the point: create a standalone characterization. Dont create character foils -- they exist only for comedy.
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 3:43

I'd venture to guess that you are caught in the worldbuilding trap. Worldbuilding is a perfectly fine hobby. You can make up characters and people and kingdoms and creatures. You can draw maps. You can imaging histories. This is all a perfectly fine way to keep yourself occupied on long rainy days. But it is not storytelling.

Storytelling is about putting a character to a test, forcing them to make some choice they don't want to make or to do some task they don't want to do (which is really the same thing). The character and the choice are made for each other. You need a choice that will be particularly painful for a character, and, equally, a character who will find a particular choice or task particularly painful.

The painful choice then gives you the shape of your story, as the character at first resists getting involved in the task that will lead them to the choice, then tries to get out of making the choice, and then is finally forced into making it, and then proves that they have (or have not) truly made it.

Every other event in the story is creating the conditions under which the main character will be forced to make that choice. Every other character in the story is there to play a part in creating those incidents. Everything bends toward that one climactic moment of choice and the denouement that proves the choice was made. (You can recast this in terms of task rather than choice if you wish. That image seems to be more palatable to some.)

It is really not about making your characters different, therefore. It is about making characters that fit the roles they need to play in building the arc of the story. If you work every character out in advance, there is a pretty good chance that they are not going to be the right characters to shape the story in the way it needs to go, and/or that you will simply have more than you need. But if each character plays a unique role in shaping the story towards its desired climax, chances are they will be different enough from each other to not cause concern.

In other words, design you characters for the job they have to do. If the characters fit their jobs, chances are you won't have a problem with duplication or sameness.

  • To underscore: this "descent into hell" story is ubiquitous in the West and your story is probably one. It's not just drama/suspense films—even good rom-coms often are. You then have to answer "Here are the characters and why they are going to hell; here's how it hurt them as they descended; here's how they finally got whatever they were seeking; here's how they got out alive." To undercut: for example in a kishotenketsu or "ascent into heaven," characters just want to go to heaven: everyone does. The storytelling builds suspense for the twist that causes them to crash back to Earth.
    – CR Drost
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 15:59

Reduce the number of your characters by combining them. Your problem isn't that your characters are all the same. It's that you have a relatively small main cast with duplicates.

Personally, I dislike books with large casts. It's too much for me to keep track of, particularly if the author hasn't done the work to distinguish them.

But maybe the problem isn't just that there are too many characters. It's that your characters are too cliched. You'll still have more luck making them into unique individuals if you aren't trying to juggle too many of them.


I completely agree with Bakers post, just wanted to add on it for a bit.

You say Horus and Gyvaris are unique because they're stolen, but I don't really understand that sentiment or why that should even be an issue.
Simply based on what you've written in this post, the other characters don't seem terribly original either. I've seen enough anime to recognize them, but that's not bad or anything - it only becomes an issue when you decide to make it one.

The question of 'what is original' is not the most ideal if you want to create something amazing or even decent.

Writing is crafting an illusion. Tyrion Lannister isn't half as deep as the average reader believes he is. Because he doesn't need to. He's not a real person. You don't have to spend months to fledge out this character when all he has to do is to fulfill his role in that illusionary world you are crafting.

So focus on that.

Example of your work:

Say, Ryn and Iris are basically the same character. Thats fine, just give them different situations to deal with. Maybe one is a thief, solely focused on obtaining some artifact that can save her brother from whatever. She hides her pain by making jokes at inappropriate times, kind of like Spiderman (stealing is okay, don't be afraid of that).

Maybe the other is a sellsword who accompanies 'the hero' and slowly grows more attached to him, while her evil(?) sorcerous sister is trying to stop her adventurous ways. She hides her pain by completely focusing on her duties. Following some kind of moral code for example, she doesn't need to overthink everything. Whenever she is mentally weak, she can easily switch on 'autopilot' and simply do what she's supposed to do, following her moral code.

Even when their base characteristics are eerily similar, who's going to notice? They're two completely different characters.

"Creating a fantasy is a team effort, where author and reader combine their powers in order to create some great imagery. For every line you hand them, they will create ten more lines in their own mind. You tell them how this character supposedly looks, they will fill the rest and might even overwrite whatever didn't seem interesting enough for them to remember.

They're like a final endboss editor." -me, right now

So don't focus too hard on making them different. Start with the basics, which is as Mark Baker wrote, their relevance to the plot. Characters are fickle creatures who adapt and change at basically three points:

  • When you first create or rework them
  • When you throw an obstacle at them and they either fail or overcome it
  • When the reader combines what you wrote with their own mentality and imagination

You need to make sure to put your effort where it counts.

So instead of working too much on these characters, maybe you can figure out what would need to happen in order to force decisions upon them. Put a sweet child in front of the villain and see if he really kicks/kills it. Maybe he finds a reason to save/keep the child. Suddenly the reader sees a whole new character in front of themselves, even though all that really happened was an obstacle, a decision and a result.

Don't overthink everything. Writing is supposed to be fun for you too.

  • 2
    I'm suspicious of this answer, because a lot of it boils down to "you don't have to do the work," and in my experience, that isn't true --as much as I've always wanted it to be. What makes you think the work can be skipped --or that (for example) GRR Martin didn't do the character-building to make Tyrion three-dimensional? Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 19:46
  • Rather than thinking of it like skipping, realize there's a time for everything. You can make up a great three-dimensional character in 5 minutes if you have a good day. It's not rocket science. But just like with rockets, very few survive the actual field test. Tyrion was likely a three-dimensional character from the get-go. It's really not that hard. You have his physique, his family, his basic characteristics, his hardships. Big 3D cinema right there. What makes him truly special however is decided by how he deals with the cards fate hands him over the course of the plot. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 8:08
  • I haven't downvoted this yet, because I think there's some strong material and good advice mixed in here. But statements like "You don't have to do all the work" are dangerously misleading. Maybe what you really mean is "you're putting your time and energy in the wrong place." Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 13:23
  • I'm conflicted because I do believe overthinking things makes writing even harder than it already is. However, if I made it sound like this route was taking 'the easy way' instead of 'an easier way', then thats obviously wrong so I tried editing it to comply with @ChrisSunami 's example. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 13:56
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    Thank you, I feel those small changes make it much stronger. I'm still not sure Martin DIDN'T spend months fleshing out Tyrion, but the change in emphasis from "don't work as hard" to "put your work where it counts" is a good one. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 14:13

Your characters have behaviours but not motivations. By defining behaviours first they always behave the same way, but by defining motivations first they can have more lifelike and distinct behaviour.

You say:

Aial and Koldryd share the same "neutral good", helps those around him, kind and understanding type.

But without the motivation you don't have any context to colour those behaviours. Does this behaviour change in a certain scenario, do they disagree sometimes?

Likewise, I see you've added MBTI, but that only defines a way or pattern of thinking (sometimes you can make a leap to a behaviour, or motivation but there is a disconnect).

One good resource I have found for developing character motivations, is this medium article on Magic: the Gathering colours, and how they are used to define characters in their stories.

My last anecdote is about how the color wheel broke me out of writer’s block — I’d been stuck at the same point in my then-one-quarter-finished novel for almost a year when I came across this framework, and I immediately sat down to try to classify all of my characters (as MTG game designer Mark Rosewater often does on his blog, where most of my understanding of this stuff comes from).

I was surprised to discover that, while I had an immediate stereotype about my second- and third-most important characters (red and white/blue/black, respectively) I had no idea what colors my main character was.

Thinking about it for an hour produced a decision (partly based on previous impressions, and partly solidifying and crystallizing those impressions) of green/blue, and I was off. I wrote thirty pages over the next two days, not to mention cleaning up a bunch of loose and random characterization.


Tone and intonation can matter a lot

Personality can set a tone for a character. A hero and an antihero might do the exact same things: they dress up as guards, infiltrate the Evil Overlord's base with their comedy-relief sidekick, square off against the Overlord, nearly die, discover the flaw in the Overlord's power source, dangle him off of a cliff, get persuaded to bring the Overlord back up off the precipice of death, get double-crossed but saved by an unexpected strength-of-will of said comedy-relief sidekick, kick the Overlord off the cliff for once and for all.

What made one the hero and the other the antihero is the tone that they brought to each of these. The antihero probably killed guards to infiltrate the base and stole their uniforms. She probably sneak-attacked the Evil Overlord and ran into his personal energy shield, foiling her. The flaw in his power source might have been a human being, a scientist who maintains the system, who she just straight-up murders to disable the power source. She was probably coaxed to save the Overlord by some promise of power or bringing some deceased loved one back, or something else essentially personal. And when she kicked him off the cliff he was begging for mercy.

Contrast with the hero. She probably got the guard uniforms by sneaking into a locker room. She probably infiltrated the keep via the loving kindness of some disaffected soldier who she befriended. She squared off one-on-one in the open with the Overlord and lost in a fair fight. The flaw in the power source was probably exploited by a simple act of industrial sabotage or pulling a cable or so. She probably saved him because he seemed to repent of his evil; she probably killed him because he had reconnected his power source and was about to Press The Button putting his final plan into immediate motion and There Was No Other Way.

Personality as a first approximation of tone

A weak resource to set tone, but still very good when you are starting out and have nowhere else to go, are the various personality systems that you can find online that give you a long description of the sort of Personality Archetype that someone has.

So: this “neutral good” person is ‘choleric’ and will argue for what she believes in; that “neutral good” person is ‘melancholic’ and he mostly broods and mopes about how things are not the way they should be. This ideologue is ‘intuitive introverted’ and she wants to just go her own way and trusts her hunches, one of which is her destructive ideology about How It Should Be; that ideologue is ‘sensing extraverted’ and he talks to everybody about his destructive ideology but only trusts what he can see, and this is based on extensive documented observation of What Works even though it flaunts how most people think it Should Be. Or he is a ‘classic Libra’, whereas she is ‘such a Taurus.’ Pick your favorite.

But that is small potatoes, a first approximation. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have some Myers-Briggs axis where they say “all the quizzes say that I’m squarely 50/50 between Perceiving and Judging and I just don’t feel like either really applies to me.” Good for brainstorming, not great for fleshing out.

Journal, to create a much deeper appreciation

Your biggest resource for setting the tone of a character involves storytelling. We are each an amalgam of stories. You should consider writing those stories down first in a skeleton form of “things that happened to her” and then flesh those out.

Journaling from each of your characters’ perspectives, digging into their history and how those significant moments affected them, is only one approach. You can also write letters from those characters back to their younger selves about what they wish their younger selves knew. Or letters to each other: maybe what they would be saying if they could talk to each other during your plots, maybe what they have said in the past.

You want each character to have had pains and made choices and had successes and triumphs in their past. As those sorts of things come back into the story, you start to see your characters make rational decisions to seize the things they think they need or want. You also start to see them make irrational decisions because that is just “what she would do.” That is what this person would decide. Both change that tone and they change how that person intones what they do.

The logical risk of having more personality

At that point you are in a considerable deal of danger; every author is. An entropic force wants to make every story longer than it has to be. It is making this answer longer than it has to be. It wants to pull you towards digression and it wants your characters to choose to dither and draw out the book longer and longer. I like the example of Richard in Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, he spends like half the plot of the book wasting time with the Mud People even though they cannot possibly get him where he is going. Your characters will decide to stay with the Mud People as long as possible, that is what is familiar and safe and “what they would do.”

So you need to have these strong ideas of who the characters are and then come at the problem backwards, “Sally is timid and unheroic and has safely escaped the Evil House at the cost of leaving Jake behind, but Jake hurt her and she hates him and she probably considers it Justice that he is stuck there. OK. But I have loved writing these scenes where they start to understand each other and he wins her heart and proposes to her twice and she says yes the second time. So what the heck do I need to engineer so that Sally has to go back to the House and face her demons so that she can rescue Jake from the unspeakable horrors inside?”

You need to know what Sally needs and wants and is irrationally afraid of, so that you can plausibly railroad her back to the plot when entropy wants to scatter her away. OK, so Sally doesn’t care about Jake. He is dead to her. But because of her childhood trauma that you have journaled, she only has this one locket with this one photo of her mother and it is Unspeakably Important to her. Maybe that’s the key: when they were still on good terms Jake was holding onto it and now Jake still has it. OK, now we’ve got legs, she still hates Jake but she needs to save him to get that locket back, I can rewrite a little of the earlier stuff to set this seed in place so that we can get Sally into Round Two, Fight with that Evil House.


There is a psychology profiling tool used in organisations called the "Myers Briggs Type Indicator" (MBTI). My ex-partner found this tool extremely helpful in helping her creative writing.

Use this page: https://www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html

Click on one of the 16 types, read it, and use this to guide future personalities.

Hope it helps.

  • Oh, thanks, I will do something with it, that's certain >:) Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 18:30
  • Aaaaand done (almost). Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 19:45
  • 1
    Welcome to Writing.SE, glad you found us. We have a tour and help center you might wish to check out. And please consider choosing a unique name for yourself.
    – Cyn
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 0:08

So one of the things about Meyers-Briggs is that it's better for ascribing a motivation to a character's behavior and world view and how he or she will interact with other characters. This is similar to the DnD's alignment grid in that for each intersection of characteristics (Meyer's brigs 4 personality traits and DnD aligment's Lawful vs. Chaos and Good vs. Evil) there are a variety of interpretations that can classify a character under these categories.

For example, the traditional Paladin problem of coming to a point where the Law is in conflict with the Moral Good. (If a Paladin does not act both in a Lawful manner and a good manner he will loses his powers from his patron god). For example, the Paladin swears an oath to a King that requires him to render aide in enforcing the laws of the land. One thief in line for the punishment stole a loaf of bread to feed his family. The law states that any thief who is unable to repay for the lost property to those who he has stolen from shall be put to death. How does the Paladin respond? His god will be displeased if he is needlessly cruel in his punishment or if he breaks his oath. His Oath requires him to uphold a law that is needlessly cruel. And the man can only die for his crime because the he stole cause he had no money to feed his family, and thus cannot pay for the bread nor return it, as it has been eaten. The player must make a choice of whether his oath to a god supersedes his oath to a mortal, or his oath to a mortal succeeds his requirement to be good because the oath to enforce the law, which he had no hand in writing. Both are good reasons to excuse either action and a reasonably justified as to how he seperate morality from legality.

A third Paladin might use the law against the law. He could say he cannot execute a man without giving him a last meal. Since there is no law on last meals, he also offers to buy it so the King will not be seen to spend tax dollars on feeding a law breaker. He then goes to the baker the thief robbed and buys a loaf of bread and tells the baker to "Keep the change" which the Baker accepts. The Paladin then declares that he will not execute the thief because the law says murder is illegal. When told the law allows the execution, he points out the Bread he bought for the thief was half of what the bread was worth and therefor the baker has been compensated to the tune of the stolen bread. The King said that since since paid for the stolen bread, the thief now owes him, but then the Paladin responds that since he made a donation to the thief, and as such, the thief did not unlawfully take the money as it was given to him as a gift. As was the loaf that he bought for the thief is was for a last meal, the Paladin again counters that the Last Meal was not part of the demands of his god, nor were there any rules in the law that bound him on how he should handle the feast... he can do good not required by oath or law because it's good.

The challenge with the thing is justifying your actions in a way that satisfies both the requirements of being Lawful and being good, which can conflict. The idea of the third option actually comes from a character who was lawful in all actions... but always to his own benefit: Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean.

In his parley with Elizabeth, Barbossa agrees to her terms to leave and never come back, but refuses to return Elizabeth to her town. Elizabeth demands her safe return, citing this as part of the rules of Parley in the Pirates Code, Barbossa throws the rules back at her: First, he points out that the Pirate Code only applies to Pirates, which Elizabeth is not. While they do not forbid Barbossa to negotiate with non-pirates, they aren't bound to honor the rules of Parley as defined in the Code. He then points out that he could choose to honor Elizabeth's terms on his own without interfering with the code, which he has done: Elizabeth told him to leave and never comeback, which he is honoring. Taking Elizabeth back would make him break their agreement. Finally he points out that even if she were a pirate, the code is rather weak on binding enforcement. Pirates being law breakers by nature, wrote the Code Specifically as a tool to use to their benefit only... if the code doesn't work to their benefit, they can break it without much punitive recourse.

This isn't the only time Elizabeth gets bested by the Pirates, as later in the movie, she tries to motivate friendlier pirates to break the rule that "those who fall behind are left behind", citing that the code is more like guidelines then rules. Of course this fails, as the Code may say it's a guideline, not a rule, nothing in the code says it can't be used as a rule. After all, if any rule can be suspended when it is to your benefit, then the rule about suspending rules can also be suspended when it is to your benefit.

Myers-Brig is similarly a guideline to understanding a characters behaviour motivation, but not to rigidly dictate behavior, which is driven by this motivation in many ways. For example, the INTJ (as a real life example, I've read about it the most) is usually given a list of several historical and fictional characters of INTJ. Some famous fictional INTJs are Emperor Palpatine (from Star Wars) and Sherlock Holmes. Both characters exhibit traits of characters who privately assess all possible data on a topic they can get and then set up their plans in a way that they are actually several steps ahead of their foe. Both see personal relationships in a way that are only tolerated in that they Benefit them (Sherlock's friend of John Watson started in that Watson, a military doctor who has seen combat, provides skills that are beneficial to Holmes, who wants to solve crimes and is much more socially apt at dealing with people then Holmes cares to be. Palpatine, has little qualms with dismissing his apprentices if they no longer can serve his needs and will always look to the better of two candidates. Darth Vader both replaced and was going to be replaced in this manner, and in both cases, Palpatine only turned on the previous apprentice when he was bested by the successor.) As discussed in Palpatines personal relationships, both had a very low tolerance of useless or inefficient things. In one story, Watson lists Holmes skills and defficencies at length and explains that Holmes could tell down to the street what parts of London someone had been in based on soil samples from the person's boot, and yet did no know that the Earth revolved around the sun, because that factoid is rarely useful to solving London crimes.

Both were experts at a style of leadership that got their underlings to do exactly what they wanted, and make the underlings seem like it was their idea. Palpatine never told Anakin to turn to the Dark Side, but rather, manipulated Anakin through a logical and rational discussion (You cannot save your wife and be a jedi) while Holmes, in some stories, manipulates Watson into joining him by playing on his own needs (In the BBC's story, Holmes uses Sherlock's inability to demobilize his mindset from war to hook Watson on the adventure and danger of investigating crimes). If they become leadership, it is not actively sought, but thrusted upon them by peers who recongize them as the most capable person for the task. Palpatine is named Chancellor because he specifically identifies why the last chancellor was not right for the job, and even then, none of his attacks are emotional pleas to the character of the predecessor, but logical expectations of the role that are not being met. He is so good at this job that in episode II, he is supported for terms in excess of what is ordinarily allowed, and in III he is applauded when he assumes the office of Emperor for Life. Similarly the quickest way for the finicky Sherlock to take the case is for LeStrange, the Scotland Yard chief, to only Sherlock is clever enough to solve it. Sherlock will refuse if he suspects Lestrange and his men are capable of closing the case without him.

If we extend to the fictional characters who are INTJ to more heroes and villains, we can also include in the number both Gil Grissom from CSI and Thanos from the Marvel Cinimatic Universe. In both cases, the characters are hardly black and white good or evil characters. In fact, these characters are not devoid of emotions, but they are also not driven by them. In Grissom's case, his colleagues often note that Grissom is a machine like personality on the job, and rarely responds to an emotional appeal. When they see him off the job, they find out he's a nut for Roller Coasters and is positively giddy about them, even joking with one employee he takes a ride with that the employee's reaction to the coaster ride will impact the employee review. In a later case where his passion and his job intersect, Grissom is still able to compartmentalize his Roller Coaster and persue the evidence where it leads him, even to investigating a witness who shares his passion. Thanos, similarly, is motivated by his desire to solve the overpopulation problem in a way that does not show favoritism. And he is a devoted father to his six adopted children and at various points in the movie, he is shown to deeply care for their well being. Even when his children actively show their hatred of Thanos, he still loves them and reacts not out of anger but disappointment. In his scene with Gamora in his throne room, he is able to calmly explaining his decision in a logical manor while his favorite daughter is emotionally protesting. And he explains that while the emotional argument isn't factored into his solution, he fully understands her side of the argument and anticipates this response (the second film opens with him countering such a motivated person from undoing his work). The compartmentalization of Passion that makes Grissom a hero also makes Thanos a villain, but one with a very compelling argument. Thanos' solution may be wrong, but he isn't wrong about the fact that the problem does exist and there can be no difficult solution to it that won't cause pain. His just causes the least amount of pain, and he'll have to shoulder a good deal of it. When he finally gathers all the stones and pulls it off, five of his six children are confirmed dead, and he commiserates with Scarlett Witch, a person who is suffering because she also lost a loved one because of him. He understands that they may disagree on the logic of his actions... but he fully knows his actions do have emotional weight that others cannot dismiss.

Again, all of these characters are one of a single category of the Myers-Brig and the rarest one in reality at that. The Myers-Brig test does not inform their or shape their world view, their goals, and their priorities. It does inform us that they are operating on a similar logical processing of information and that their response to that input follows from a similar core process ability.

It's also not a static catagory either. I've taken the test and gotten other scores because, in my mood at test time, I might answer a question differently and it affects the outcome (I frequently flip-flop between INTJ and ENTJ, which are mostly similar). And that some traits do not think what it might mean. For example, I'm an introvert, but I'm not shy. Introvert means I get an emotional recharge from having moments of inward reflection on my thoughts and processing them at my own speed. Conversely, my boyfriend is an extrovert, but not outgoing. He's not the best at striking up a conversation in a social setting, but he does get agitated with me if I am not giving him attention for long period of times, and will seek me out for attention if it goes too long.

Extroversion and Introversion are not the same thing as Outgoing vs. Shy, though they tend to put out similar responses. An extrovert will be frustrated that he or she is ignored when they are trying to start up an engaging topic of conversation much like an outgoing person, who wants to meet people and talk. An Introvert will be frustrated by an intrusion on his down time, and will respond by subtly trying to end the intrusion, much like a shy person, who is intimidated by a conversation with people they do not know.

As a TL;DR conclusion, the Meyers-Brig is a good guide to anticipating your character's expected response to a given situation, but it's not a hard rule that must be followed. Rather, overcoming the limits of a personality type and difficulties they have with dealing with others could be just as good of a plot as finding a creative solution that doesn't betray the core driving motives of the characters, especially when the problem seems like it's going to be a problem with some intersection of two drives. The INTJ initially seems like a person who doesn't lead, but the truth is that if you can get one to lead you, they aren't a bad leader at all and will tolerate all your weird quirks so long as you get results. But they're also great villains, because if they have it out for you, you can bet they're going to know you almost as well as you know yourself... if not better and they are experts at making it seem like you have them on the ropes, when in fact, they have the ropes around your neck.

Myers-Brigs is better to think of as like the CPU of the computer. Sure, you have different makes and models of CPUs, but that doesn't inform us of what we're going to see when we turn on the monitor... it just tells us why we are seeing that response.


In my experience with creating characters, I have found that writing out all their traits in a concrete manner is not the way to go, because real people are not always consistent. Tying them down to an archetype also does more harm than good, most of the time. You seem as if you’re formulating patterns before treating your characters like real people.

This may not be a problem if your work is extremely plot based. There are different types of readers; some care about literal events, and others care about the character drama. If you’re going for a character focused story, my advice is just to let go and let them act how they want.

Maybe Amrar and Adam are similar, but through the writing process they’ll gain little quirks that set them apart and make them feel unique. Don’t think of them as a personality type. Let them break out of that so they can be free to change as you figure out who they are.

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