If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Exploiting Personality Types in Writing


For those unfamiliar with Myers-Briggs, it classifies personality along four scales: Introvert (I)/ Extrovert (E), Intuitive (N)/Sensing (S), Feeling (F)/Thinking (T) and Perceiving (P)/Judging (J). Very briefly, these can be thought of in this way: 

To recharge your personal batteries would you prefer quiet time by yourself (I) or a social occasion with friends (E)? Make sure not to confuse this with the concept of shyness.

Do you prefer to understand the world by using disparate facts to construct a holistic understanding (N), or would you prefer to understand the general rule and make logical conclusions based on it? (S)

After gathering information, are your decisions ruled more by detached logic (T) or more of a sense of what is correct, your feelings (F)? A BIG CLUE is to listen in on your conversations. Ts will often say “I think…” and Fs will often say “I feel …”

Are you more comfortable having a decision settled (J) or keeping alternatives open as long as possible (P)?

Myers-Briggs results are based on self-reporting and because of that people often incorrectly assess someone else’s Myers-Briggs profile. When people guess my profile they often get it wrong. I am an INTP, but I’m most often guessed as ESTJ or ISTJ or ENTJ.

People who do not know me well may think I am an extrovert when they see I’m comfortable standing up in front of people and talking. In my bridge lessons I project a demonstrative affect. At bridge tournaments, I am not buried in a book or Sudoku puzzle before the matches begin. I can make small talk with the best of them. In order to have a successful career I had to be socialized. I can put on the mannerisms often exhibited by the extroverts. However, after the lecture or game or church meeting or whatever is over, I’m ready to head off by myself to recharge. A real extrovert would be ready for more social interaction to continue charging their batteries.

Similarly, many people think I am Sensing because I am expert working with data and can parse it with the best of them. I was paid to be detail oriented. That’s confusing a skill I posses with my actual interests. I am always trying to build a larger picture from the pieces, taking seemingly unrelated facts and combining them into an overarching understanding. I am a theoretician by bent and a technician by trade.

No one confuses me as an F. I am logic driven to a fault and need to moderate my inner sense of right with a broader perspective learned through living life.

In many areas of my life I have been in management roles. I can and do make decisions when needed. That’s what people see and so they perceive as a J. Unlike the I, N, and T portions of my personality, all of which are very strong, I am only somewhat more a P than I am a J. I will keep sucking in data as long as I can and put off the decision as long as I can (all strong P attributes), but once a decision has to be made, I make it and I don’t look back with regret (strong J attributes).

So how does this fit into writing?

A requirement of interesting writing is conflict. Without conflict any scene is headed for the cutting room floor—or worse, a reader falling asleep or skipping pages. Conflict is not just about people having different physical goals. Conflict often occurs when people with opposite characteristics work or play together.

A “P” employee who works for a “J” boss will be “hounded” (from the P’s perspective) by the boss for results and decisions before all the analysis is complete. The boss will be continually frustrated because the underling always wants to look at more data before making a recommendation.

A mother who thinks the world should be run by logic is married to someone who makes decisions based on feel. She sees mostly black and white; he sees only grays. To her, every act has a logical consequence; he sees possible justifications and ameliorations. She sets fixed rules; his are flexible based on situation. The couple has three kids who have learned whom to appeal to based on the evidence of their situation.

One friend, an introvert, wants to stay home and read an interesting book. The extrovert wants to go and party. Consider how effective it is when an extroverted parent sends an introverted child to their room for the evening as “punishment.”

A networker (N) constantly brings interesting combinations of people together for creative discussions works for a boss (S) who measures output by number of widgets produced—whether people are going to want the widgets or not.

Even when these opposites have a common goal they may have great conflict about how to accomplish it. They also might have interesting misunderstandings the author can exploit. Just as many people misguess my profile, one character can misunderstand another’s motivations leading to mistrusts and mischief.

What do you think; can thinking about personality types help bring additional conflict into your stories?

~ Jim

8 comments:

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting subject, Jim. I know my siblings cracked up laughing when I said I was more of an introvert than anything else. Yes, I enjoy visiting with people, but I can only take so much of crowds of people. I'm most content and happy alone at home.

Kara Cerise said...

I have taken the Myers-Briggs at work and in school and both times my profile was ENTP. I think the P part of personality makes me a slow writer since I like to keep alternatives open as long as possible.

I do think that this can be a useful tool for adding conflict in stories.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Gloria,

People can be indignant that you must be wrong about your own feelings!

There's another tool I use a lot in understanding people called "Social Styles" that is just the opposite -- others rate how you actually respond rather than about self-perception.

~ Jim

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Kara,

As an ENTP you are my party-animal twin! I know what you mean about possibly slowing writing down. I'm always thinking, "Yeah, but what if this happens then how does the story change?"

Fortunately for me, the part of me that can be a J will step in when needed and say "fish or cut bait" and I'll get the story down.

Of course it may change some in the second draft. I am, afterall, a pantser .

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

Anything that helps/

E. B. Davis said...

I've been thinking about this post all day. I'm not sure that stamping types on people is helpful. Having incompatible people clashing increases tension, but it seems like stereotyping.

Perhaps tests such as these can pinpoint trends in people or maybe I'm the typical Gemini, sometimes I'm one way, at other times I'm another depending on the mood, social situation or the people I'm with that invalidates tests such as these.

Sometimes people who are too much alike clash. Other times, too much closeness causes tension. I remember after my school revealed our IQs after testing, the school psychologist said (to the effect of), "Smart people clash. Best to have one friend who is less intelligent to be the follower." I had visions of "Of Mice and Men." Like everyone needs a lacky. Put me off tests but good.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

EB,

As Warren said, whatever helps. This concept obviously isn't your cup o' tea, whereas I find categorizing quite useful in understanding how different people tick.

It's only stereotyping if you let it be -- just as some stereotype based on skin color, sex, country of origin or region of the country someone grew up in, while other writers see each of us as individuals.

~ Jim

Cher'ley said...

I always have personality types in mind, because people are people. I think that's different then saying all secretaries sit around filing their nails. Cher'ley