Updated: Aug 23, 2020
Today's podcast is about personality templates.
Have you ever heard authors talk about how characters take on minds of their own, make their own choices and the scenes just kind of write themselves?
Ever wonder why your characters don't do that?
The only way that works is if you give your characters a personality and specific traits BEFORE you start writing.
Click (or read) below to listen to me explain what they are and give you resources, so you can do more research and really flesh out your characters.
Your readers will thank you for it!
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00:00:00 Do you want to write fiction, but don't know where to start. Believe me. I understand I've stood in your shoes. I've wanted to write amazing stories and wondered if I was even on the right track. I worried and struggled for years. I know what it feels like to have no idea what you're doing. Like everything you write is cheesy and amateurish, and you'll never be good enough to sit on the shelves next to the great authors of your time or the classics. But I want you to know there's an answer for you. A way to know that the stories you're writing will resonate with readers, a way to transform from wherever you are now in your writing journey to someone who's universally hailed, as talented and as skilled storyteller.
00:00:34 Welcome to the story. Savant the podcast with free writing advice for the aspiring storyteller. I'm going to give you every tool I know to help you become a master storyteller every week. I'll bring you tips on story structure, characterization, themes, heroes, villains, and more to automatically make your story resonate with your audience. Stay tuned. We're going to learn to tell amazing stories and we're going to have a ton of fun doing it. Let's do this!
00:01:00 All right. So today I want to talk about personality tests. Now, if you're not somebody who is really very big on personality tests, please don't turn me off just yet. Just, just hear me out. What I have to say. I've actually been studying them a few different ones a lot lately, and I know that there are people out there who don't like them.
00:01:16 There are even people out there who say that they're evil. I'm not sure why this is, but I would just submit that you could see personality tests a lot, like the internet in this case, can the internet be used for evil things? Sure, of course it can. We all know that, but if you're using it for good things, then there's no reason to not use it.
00:01:35 Right. As long as we're spreading goodness and positivity. And unfortunately there are people that are gonna use it for evil things, but we can't really control that. And the internet is not going anywhere. Right. So I kind of see personality test the same way. I'm not exactly sure how you would use it for something evil. I'm not even sure what form that would take, but I know that there are people who think that and no judgment. It's, it's probably a religious religious thing. And I can totally understand that. But if you're just using it for good things as an educational tool, not letting it take over your world or your decision making or anything, I really don't think there's anything wrong with them.
00:02:07 And as writers, I think that there's two basic ways in which you can use them, that they become really invaluable tools that you can use as a writer. Okay. So really just like any other tool you might use, like an outlining tool or a software tool or anything else, that's all I'm suggesting you use it for. So two different ways in which you can use them.
00:02:25 One is to help craft your characters. Have you ever heard a writer say that they sat down to write a scene and the characters just started talking to them and the scenes practically wrote themselves. That's a very common thing to say now for a long time as a writer. I didn't really understand that because not that I couldn't write my scenes and that they didn't flow to me pretty easily, but I kind of already knew what I wanted the scene to be. And I knew what, what I wanted the characters to be. And so I just kind of felt like that was a weird way to describe it because I didn't feel like I didn't know what was going to happen. And the characters told me when I sat down to write, I already knew before I sat down to write how it was going to be.
00:03:00 So I just kind of always figured that it was just those writers. That was the way that they perceived their own writing process. And I didn't really think of it that way. So it was just a different way to describe it. Right. So I wasn't thinking they were lying or anything like that. I just kind of went, yeah, that's not really the way I think about it, but okay.
00:03:17 You know, to each their own, but it's also true that I didn't use to use, you know, much personality trait to craft my characters. And since I started doing that, I think I understand a little bit better. What's going on when writers say that when authors say that, because what a personality test, you know, using different types of personalities for your characters can do, is it gives you an idea of how your character will react to things, how they will react to other people and situations, you know, what kind of inner dialogue is going on with them based on their personality. So if you have someone who's a questioner, you know that the first thing they're going to do is question everything around them.
00:03:58 You can have this happen, literally like they're verbally asking questions or it can be part of the inner dialogue, but either way, that's how they approach the world. The question, everything. Okay. If you have someone who's a rebel, who's going to, um, just, you know, be angry and rebel against anything anyone tells them to do. Even if it's a good thing, that's just their personality, the rebels, right?
00:04:17 So if you already know what their personality is, and then you plunk them down in a situation, that's when the scene starts to write themselves because the character, you already know kind of how they're gonna react. And once you put them in the scene and they start reacting to that, that's, you know, the scenes kind of write themselves and then they will create their own kind of tension and their own kinds of conflict.
00:04:36 So if you can craft your characters, using specific personality traits, that's when those scenes are going to kind of take off and do their own thing. And that can be really, really fun.
00:04:45 Now some of you may be saying, yeah, but I already know what I want my characters to do. If I give them a particular personality, what if they don't end up doing what I had originally planned? Well, a couple of solutions to that one is that maybe you want to let them do what they're going to do at first and just see what happens. Maybe it'll end up making for a better story than you originally had plotted.
00:05:04 And that's perfectly okay if not, and you definitely want them to, you know, do the thing that you had originally planned. Then I would still recommend looking at the personality types because you can kind of work backwards from it. You can say, okay, if I need my character to do, to do this, then I either have to set up, you know, a certain events that will make that personality type, make that choice.
00:05:26 Or I need to just create a personality from the beginning that would end up making that choice either way. But that is still going to create a much more vivid and believable character because their personality will be consistent all the way through. And the reader will completely understand why that was the choice that was made because that's just the character's personality.
00:05:44 So there's still a lot of value in looking at personalities when you're crafting your characters.
00:05:49 So that's the first way in which I think you can use personality tests. There are even, I know that this is true for the Enneagram because I have this book and I would go through some different personality tests you can use in just a minute, if you're wondering, but the Enneagram has like, Enneagram for kids, Enneagram for parenting, there's all kinds of books you can get. And one of them I have is Enneagram for relationships. And it's kind of fun because it shows it not only goes over what the nine personality types are for the Enneagram. It also talks about which personalities mesh well together, romantically or in other relationships.
00:06:25 So if you're crafting say even a friendship, you know, think like Ron Harry and her mind, he right, you can, you can put together personalities that are different, but that will mesh well together. You don't want personalities that are going to butt heads and end up hating each other all the time. When you want this to be a friendship on the flip side, if you want to create some tension, you can come up with personalities that often butt heads, because they're so different.
00:06:49 You can, you can look at this book, even tells which personalities, each personality is more likely to be romantically involved with. So it'll, it has this continuum, it'll say, okay, this personality, usually Mary's either this type or this type, because they're the ones that mesh well together. They usually don't marry this type because those two personalities end up hating each other. So it's really kind of interesting. And you can have fun and play around with different personalities for your romantic partners or what have you. So those are just kind of fun.
00:07:16 All right. So the second way in which I think you can use personality typing is for you as the writer.
00:07:21 And the reason that I wanted to do this episode is because I've actually, I've known what my personality type is for a couple of the, you know, different personalities systems for awhile. But I started looking more deeply into it. I was doing research mostly for my characters and for the course that I'm writing, but I kinda, I did, um, I did the Enneagram again, which I had. That was one of them that I did a long time ago, but I just didn't really remember it. I hadn't looked at it in a long, long time.
00:07:46 And then I also did Myers Briggs. And I figured out what my personality type is. I am an INFJ, which is the rarest personality type in the world.
00:07:54 But I honestly think there are probably a lot of writers who have that personality. Don't get me wrong. I've met writers of all personality types. It's not like you have to have a certain personality in order to be a writer, not at all, but INFJ is more given to solitary tasks and to introversion and things like that. So it wouldn't surprise me to learn that a lot of writers are INFJ.
00:08:16 Once I figured that out, I started reading about my personality type and even bought a couple of books on my personality type. There's actually a book on, on Amazon that I would recommend called the INFJ writer. Okay. So it's a book about writers who are INFJ. And so I got that and I've been reading it and it's really good.
00:08:32 But the reason that I'm telling you to do this is that whatever you're struggling with,it's probably based in your personality. So as a writer, if you have a hard time getting your button, see, and writing the words, or if you have a hard time editing, or if you have a hard time with procrastination or whatever it is that you're struggling with, you will probably find that that is a key component of your personality. Okay.
00:08:53 So number one, that take the guilt away to a certain extent, because it's not just you being lazy and it's something that everyone with your personality struggles with, and by learning about your own strength and weaknesses that can help you to battle them. You know, you can play to your strengths and also recognize your weaknesses and, you know, take steps to counter them and try to create strengths there.
00:09:15 Okay. So as a writer, I think you kind of owe it to yourself to figure out what your personality is and learn about yourself. You can get such great insights into yourself. I have, while I've been doing this, it's been really, really amazing. And I'm still reading that book. I haven't even finished it yet, but I just found out a lot of things about myself and went, "wow, that makes perfect sense. That kind of makes me feel better." You know, that sort of thing.
00:09:35 So this is something I would highly recommend you do. And I think you'll, it will end up being a really enlightening experience for you and can actually make you a better writer, a better worker, you know, more comfortable in your own skin.
00:09:46 Once you understand these things about your personality, that sort of thing. And as you learn about other personalities, not only can that help you to craft your characters, but it also helps you understand the world around you and the people around you. And you know, maybe why you clashed so much with this person, but get along so well with that person.
00:10:00 You know, it's just, it's just, it's an educational tool. So which personality systems should you go with? There are quite a few and I'm not going to necessarily recommend one over the other, but there are a few that I like that. I think you can get some value out of.
00:10:16 There's one called the color code. This is really basic. It talks about why a person does things and what they're concerned with.
00:10:23 There's four colors, basic colors, blue, yellow, white, and red. I can just give you a really brief overview of each one, but I would encourage you to go read more about it. Especially if you're doing research for your characters, blues are the more emotional ones they're in tune with people concerned about what should be done.
00:10:41 They need to have integrity and be appreciated. And they focus on quality and creating strong relationships. Yellows are very physical and tactile. They need to be noticed and have fun. They love life. They love social things and love being positive and spontaneous. These are really high energy people, class clowns, people like that. Whites are very go with the flow.
00:11:01 They're genuinely happy to do whatever makes other people happy. They need to be accepted and treated with kindness, but they're very logical objective and tolerance. So go with the flow, laid back, you know, just those people that just really easygoing.
00:11:13 Those are whites and reds are our dominance. They're the ones who tend to boss people around tell people what to do, but they tend to be naturally strong leaders and love challenges. So if you want to learn more about the color code, I'm going to give you some resources, here.
00:11:30 There is a website that's just called color code.com and that's the base for that personality type. You can go there and learn all about the different colors. And I don't have any particular book recommendations for this one, but if you go on Amazon and type in color code personality tests, something like that, trust me, there are dozens upon dozens of books for each of these personality systems.
00:11:52 Then there's the Enneagram. Like I said, I I've done this one a little bit more. And I like this one. There are nine different personalities here, but there's the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger, and the peacemaker. Yeah.
00:12:08 If I were to try to tell you what the attributes of each one were, that would take a long time, but this one also you can have wings. So you're are, you know, you have a main personality that you are, but then you can have wings of some of the other ones. So that becomes a little bit more detailed.
00:12:23 If you want resources on this, you can take the personality test at truity.com. That's T R U I T y.com. That's where I took mine. There's also something called the Enneagraminstitute.com.
00:12:36 The book I told you about is called, "Are you my type? Am I yours?" And that you can find that on Amazon or most book retailers, that's the relationship one. And there are, again, if you type enneagram into Amazon, there are tons of books about different personalities. Um, there's enneagram for parenting, Enneagram for the working person. You know, when you're talking about your career or, you know, getting along with people in the office, I mean, it just goes on and on there's tons and tons of resources to learn about this stuff.
00:13:03 Very recently, I read the four tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. I would really, really recommend this one. There are only four tendencies per as per the title, but this has to do with how people deal with inner and outer expectations, whether they uphold them or not.
00:13:17 And this for me was especially enlightening. I was able to figure out not only which one I am, but different people in my family. And it was just really interesting. I would like read a chapter and then sit around and think about it for an hour. It was just really, really interesting.
00:13:30 And again, this will really help you figure out why you struggle with what you struggle with. Okay?
00:13:36 The four types are the upholder, the obliger, the questioner, and the rebel. For resources for that, the website is actually Gretchenrubin.com. She's the one who wrote the book. So it's the name of the author. And if you just want to go to Amazon or whatever your book retailer is, and look up The Four Tendencies, it'll be there. You'll find it. It's a, it's a well known book. Okay?
00:13:54 So this isn't exactly personality type, but you might also want to look at Five Love Languages. I didn't actually talk about this as concerned as characters, but the idea is that everybody expresses love in different ways.
00:14:06 So the main ways in which human beings express love are through words of affirmation saying, I love you, or, you know, whatever it is that you say to your loved ones, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time together. And of course, physical touch, but people express love in different ways.
00:14:24 And often this is something that you don't hear about very much, unless you're watching Dr. Phil or something, but people express love in different ways. And sometimes there can be problems in a relationship, if the two people don't understand the way in which their partner expresses love.