My daughter – just for fun, mind you – performed a personality profile on me the other day. This is the link to that profile: http://www.personalitypage.com/ISFJ.html. Apparently, I am typed as THE NURTURER. I am introverted, use my five senses to coordinate through life, feel a great deal of emotion about things, and am judgmental.
Uh – BINGO!
Part of the profile states, “has a rich inner world that is not usually obvious to observers. They( nurturers) constantly take in information about people and situations that is personally important to them, and store it away.”
Uh – BINGO, again!
Hellooooo! Doesn’t this description sound like a writer to you??
As a pysch major, I know the value I put in my character’s motivations, feelings, habits, and lifestyle decisions. Every action has a meaning, reason, and reaction and it’s my job to keep them all spinning in the air on the page so the reader is entertained and the characters are ultimately fulfilled. But just like people, every character has his/her own distinct personality. And again, it’s my job to know every facet of the character, every flaw, every quirk, every subtle nuance that makes them, well, them.
When I used to write mysteries, I did detailed character profiles, especially for my villains. I needed to know exactly why they were doing what they were doing – namely, murdering people. Since I am not a murderer myself ( thank you, Jesus!), I needed to know what goes into the psychological makeup of a person that would entice them and then compel them to kill another human being. I had to dissect their internal motivations, compulsions, and desires to find the one fatal piece of their internal makeup that could enable them to take a life.
At the time I read extensively on the “Killer’s Mind.” Book after book, page after page of forensic psychology on why killers kill. It was a dark time in my mind and I think it showed in the kind of work I was producing. When I found myself going to dark places in my head once too ofter, I stopped writing for while. Or in this case, about five years.
Then I started writing happy things again like romances. Believe me, my brain – and my family – thank me daily.
Even though I am no longer writing about people who have slunk low on the humanity scale, I still need to know who my characters are. So I still do mini psych profiles of them in order to get inside their heads while they are inside mine.
Okay, this is starting to sound like a Stephen King book premise….but I think you get my drift.
You can find many personality profiles on line if you like arm chair psych-pop, but you can also get insights from a few well known books as well. My three favs are:
Writer’s Guide to Character traits, by Linda N. Edelstein, PH.d
A Writer’s Guide to Characterization, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
45 Master Characters, also by Victoria Lynn Schmidt,
You will get a wealth of knowledge and insights into internal and external motivations for characters’ responses, as well as an ability to track and assign personality traits to your characters, if you are in need of that knowledge.
Oh, and my own personality profile – the one I listed at the top of this page – it was spot-on accurate. You might want to click around on the link and find out how you are characterized, and discover just what it is exactly that makes you tick.
Eyeopening is a good way to describe how I felt when I read mine through. Eyeopening and maybe just a tad frightening as well.