Words to Describe Your Characters: The SJs

neatly styled woman in a business meetingCPP Blog Central has posted a series on words associated with each MBTI personality type. If you’re an author, and you know your characters’ MBTI types, these articles are a great resource to generate ideas on how to describe them. Or, if you don’t know the character’s type, these lists might help you figure it out!

The SJ types (Guardians) share several characteristics in common, such as scheduled, organized, practical, and focused. For more specific descriptions of each type, check out each individual article:

The Personality Page type portraits also offer good descriptions. Are there any other words you would add to these lists?

Related posts:
ESFJ – ESTJ –  ISFJISTJ
Words to Describe Your Characters: The SPs
Words to Describe Your Characters: The NTs
Words to Describe Your Characters: The NFs
The Truth about the Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Image Copyright: samotrebizan / 123RF Stock Photo

Words to Describe Your Characters: The SPs

woman playing and electric guitarCPP Blog Central has posted a series on words associated with each MBTI personality type. If you’re an author, and you know your characters’ MBTI types, these articles are a great resource to generate ideas on how to describe them. Or, if you don’t know the character’s type, these lists might help you figure it out!

The SP types (Artisans) share several characteristics in common, such as fun, resourceful, and present oriented. For more specific descriptions of each type, check out each individual article:

The Personality Page type portraits also offer good descriptions. Are there any other words you would add to these lists?

Related posts:

ESFP – ESTPISFP – ISTP

Words to Describe Your Characters: The NTs

man thinkingCPP Blog Central has posted a series on words associated with each MBTI personality type. If you’re an author, and you know your characters’ MBTI types, these articles are a great resource to generate ideas on how to describe them. Or, if you don’t know the character’s type, these lists might help you figure it out!

The NT types (Rationals) share several similar words, such as logical; driven or determined; and thought-provoking, innovative, or outside-the-box. For more specific descriptions for each type, check out each individual article:

Are there any words you would add to these lists to describe the types?

Related posts:
ENTJENTPINTJINTP

Words to Describe Your Characters: The NFs

woman reading a book on a park benchCPP Blog Central has posted a series on words associated with each MBTI personality type. If you’re an author, and you know your characters’ MBTI types, these articles are a great resource to generate ideas on how to describe them. Or, if you don’t know the character’s type, these lists might help you figure it out!

The NF types (Idealists) share several words in common, such as creative, compassionate, and caring. For more specific descriptions for each type, check out each individual article:

Are there any words you would add to these lists to describe the types?

Related posts:

ENFJENFPINFJINFP

Know Your Audience: Emotional Resonance in Fiction

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first rule of technical communication is know your audience. In fact, this is the first rule of all effective communication. Yet in other fields, writers may not realize it.

Beginning novelists have a lot to learn about craft: showing not telling, the three-act structure, developing characters, crafting  effective dialogue, using sensory detail to immerse the reader in the scene. Yet even if all these elements are in place, the novel can still fall flat.

When I rate a novel on the Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble websites, the difference between a 4-star and a 5-star review is often emotional resonance. In short, how happy or uplifted or moved do I feel at the end of the novel?

In fiction, knowing your reader goes deeper than simply understanding the expectations of your genre. What do readers want from the experience of reading fiction? In a post on Writer Unboxed, Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story, explains it this way:

Story is an internal brain-to-brain, emotion-driven expedition…about how the plot affects the protagonist. The good news is that protagonists are people. Just like you and me. They live and breathe and make decisions the same way we do. The bad news is that writers often tend to leave this crucial layer out, giving us only a beautifully written rendition of the story’s external shell – the plot, the surface, the “things that happen” — rather than what’s beneath the surface, where the real meaning lies.

The story is in how we decide to do things, not simply in the things we do.

As an author, your goal is to create a fictive dream and immerse readers into it. At the same, you must lead readers (baby ducks, as Heidi Cullinan calls them) down the path you want them to go, focusing their attention on things that matter, downplaying things that are less important, and imprinting them on the characters they’re supposed to sympathize with.

For instance, you don’t want your minor characters to be cardboard cutouts, but you don’t want them to be fully realized, either. At a meeting with the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Sue Winegardner of Entangled Publishing talked about seeing submissions for YA novels where the main characters are well-developed but the minor characters are stereotypes like “mean girl” and “nerd.” Even walk-on characters should have some trait that makes them real. When a barrista hands your protagonist a cup of coffee, the protagonist could notice the barrista’s chipped nail polish and silver bangle bracelets. This gives life to the story. But you don’t want the protagonist to overhear the barrista talking to a co-worker about how her mother is having a double mastectomy the next day, when you have no plans to go anywhere with that story element. A glimpse into the emotional life of a walk-on character leads readers to imprint on the character, and creates the expectation that the character is somehow important to the story.

Similarly, the antagonist should not be a villain with no redeeming characteristics, yet you don’t want to create too much sympathy him. During the final battle, readers should be rooting for the main character (even if they hope the antagonist can be redeemed). Otherwise, the ending will be unsatisfying, and they’ll be less likely to buy your next novel.

Balancing reader empathy among your cast of characters is essential if you want your stories to linger after the reader has finished the book. Yet it’s difficult for authors to judge this quality on their own. Ask your critique partners and beta readers for feedback in this area. Tweak as needed until your most trusted readers agree you’ve given them the satisfying story they crave.

Perceiving Writers: Pushing the Limits

image of a telescopeWriters with a preference for perception approach a subject from different angles. With their drive to explore, they don’t want to wrap up a project until forced to by the pressure of a deadline. Without that pressure, they can meander endlessly, failing to complete projects and collect the rewards of their hard work. How can perceiving writers honor their curiosity while producing results?

In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of following your natural tendencies when writing a first draft. Then, during the editing process, you can go back and fill in the elements you missed.

Natural tendencies of perceiving writers

Those who prefer perception are inquisitive and spontaneous. Seizing opportunities as they arise, these writers like to experiment and discover solutions through serendipity.

Perceiving types are flexible and like to improvise. Decisions are postponed until the last minute in case new information comes to light. These types don’t mind uncertainty, and they’re not thrown off-balance by the unexpected, as judging types often are.

Deadlines don’t loom over perceiving types. They’re certain they’ll finish on time, even if they don’t know how.

These writers mull over their topic and conduct research before writing. They explore the subject thoroughly so they don’t miss anything. Their first drafts tend to be wide-ranging and somewhat disorganized.

Perceiving types work in spurts toward their final goal, following ideas as they occur. Interim milestones aren’t useful, because these types change their focus as new information arises. Since deadline pressure motivates them to complete a project, they work right up until the last moment.

As they mature, perceiving writers become more decisive and organized while retaining their curiosity and openness. They learn to trust their need to explore a topic thoroughly and their ability to pull it all together at the last minute.

Filling the gaps

If you’re a perceiving writer, verify the time requirements for completing the job. Work backward from the deadline to determine when you have to start. Ensure that all the resources you need are in place so you don’t get into a bind.

Test your assumptions about the scope of the work (for instance, make sure the photos in your source material are print-quality).  To avoid a time crunch at the end, set goals to measure progress.  Establish a cut-off point for conducting research so you have enough time to write.

After the first draft, narrow the subject. Identify and cut any extraneous information. If it’s not relevant to the reader’s immediate task or goal, move the information to an appendix or delete it.

Even if you don’t write an outline, develop an organizing framework. Present the material in a focused way. At the end of the project, be judicious about making last-minute changes. Consider the impact on other team members. Avoid risking the deadline.

If you’re feeling blocked, learn to say no. Don’t over-commit, and don’t work on so many projects at once that you’re not able to finish any of them. That energy boost you get as a deadline approaches won’t make up for a lack of sleep. Take care of yourself so you can put your best into your projects.

Judging Writers: Getting It Done

image of a gavelWriters who prefer judgment like to start projects early, work at a steady pace, and finish before the deadline. When unexpected developments threaten the schedule, they can have trouble adapting. How can judging writers honor their need to plan, while remaining open to new ideas that arise?

In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of following your natural tendencies when writing a first draft. Then, during the editing process, you can go back and fill in the elements you missed.

Natural tendencies of judging writers

People who prefer judgment are decisive. They tend to be orderly in their approach, preparing a mental map of how they expect events to unfold. Uncertainty and surprises leave them unsettled.

Precise and consistent, judging types strive to be right. With a goal of finishing projects, they prefer to devise solutions, wrap up loose ends, and move on.

Judging writers begin a project by writing down their initial thoughts. Narrowing their topic early helps limit the scope of their work. Their early drafts are skeletal, and revision focuses on fleshing out ideas.

Interim milestones help keep judging types on track. These writers pad the schedule and make contingency plans, working steadily toward their goal. Since they prefer to work on one project at a time, they’re often eager to finish one so they can begin another.

As they mature, judging writers learn to schedule time for flexibility. The pre-writing phase becomes an opportunity to reread material, discuss it with others, and conduct more research. When revising their draft, they elaborate on their points and soften their statements to sound less didactic

Filling the gaps

If you’re a judging writer, chances are, you have a clear idea of how things ought to be. So you may not feel a strong drive to conduct research. Larry Kunz suggests that judging types include the research step as a milestone in the schedule, to ensure that it isn’t overlooked.

Stay curious. Avoid narrowing your subject too soon. Don’t let preconceived ideas limit you, and don’t resist new ideas that require you to circle back to part of the project you thought was complete. Include any important new information that arises, even if it means you have to readjust your schedule.

If working with a group, try to stay flexible if other members of the team want to take a different approach. Choose your battles wisely. Also, take time out for fun activities. Your best ideas may come while you’re going for a walk or working in the garden. Spend time away to gain a new perspective. You’ll feel refreshed and be even more productive

If you’re feeling blocked, think of Franz Kafka: over his desk, he had the word, “Wait.” Don’t write before you’re ready. Give your ideas a chance to develop. You may be surprised at how they mature over time.