One of the most important aspects of writing a compelling, believable story is discovering who your character is and isn’t. For me, this is the fun part. Maybe too fun. I often have to reign myself in from both research and character analysis (and personality quizzes…so many quizzes…) before I use them as ways to procrastinate rather than as tools to help me write. That said, as I wrote last time, looking at different or new aspects of your character and/or looking at known aspects from a different perspective can definitely help shake things loose in your mind. If you become too comfortable in one avenue of story or character, you can start to lose the spark that drove you in the early stages of the story.
I’m in that camp right now, sort of. My “story spark” is buried under the embers and burned-out logs of old habits and certain distressing life events. And that’s fine. If you’re in the same boat, don’t worry too much or push yourself too hard. Life is cyclical, even writing life. In the meantime, to keep engagement with your story (or stories) and characters, you can use exploration of personality and the psyche to your advantage.
In conjunction with the MBTI test, you might also consider these traits. Do some sound like your character? Or they might create a new urge to explore, and spawn a new character to play with while you give your mind a break from the others. Or maybe these even sound a bit like you? Whatever the case, I hope you find this kind of exploring as fun and useful as I have.
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. is a fantastic resource for exploring the concept of being “highly sensitive.” This trait could also be seen as the “empath/empathic” trait, I think. There is a short checklist in the book and on the website that gives a good idea of what it may look like, mean, or feel like as an HSP.
- This is a quick, fun way to get at some of your characters’ mental processes. Each question is simple, to the point, but might give you a point to ponder. What sort of place would draw your character in? Are they motivated by curiosity or caution? This particular Sorting Hat quiz also gives percentages of what House at Hogwarts your characters might be suited for, rather than a pure, solid sorting into one House. And, of course, if you or your characters have a strong reaction to the result, there’s some food for thought there, too.
- This trait is the involuntary or unconscious mixing/intermingling of two or more senses. Some people taste certain things when listening to music or specific words. Some associate colours and personalities with letters, numbers, days of the week, months, or even names. Some see these colours on the page just as vividly as the black ink in which the letters are printed. Some perceive time as taking up a specific space in relation to them. Synaesthesia is as multifaceted as any other human experience, and though there are categories for the different sorts, each person with synaesthesia (synaesthetes/synesthetes) experiences their trait differently. There are many, many interesting videos on the topic on YouTube and a few TED talks address it as well. I could talk for hours about this topic, but I’ll leave it at that for now.