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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cultivating Characters: Beyond the Character Sheet

Words from the CLab – Like gamers, authors are no strangers to character profiles or charts. Outline range from simplistic to extensive. Evaluations focus on traditional information written in a questionnaire-like form: physical appearance, family, personal traits, etc. Character charts are a valuable asset in cultivating characters but they are also a hindrance without a dominate personality. Novice writers spend much of their initial brainstorming building on the character’s physical attributes. It is perfectly natural for humans to primarily categorize, physical traits as top priority. From the personal opinions and observations conducted by the CLab writers, human perception in largely concentrated on the visual, which isn’t a shameful thing to do.
Many professionals and non-professionals favor going beyond the traditional by first building on the character’s psychological identity. Using behavioral tools, which the CLab likes to call Personality Profiling, helps authors investigate the character’s psyche. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a psychometric assessment designed to evaluate the psychological decisions people make as they perceive the world around them. Utilizing only four questions, a personality type, or code, becomes the identifier correlating to the character’s individual traits. The results are a combination of the four preferences within the model listed below:
  • Extraversion and Introversion (Directing and Focusing Personal Energy)
  • Sensing and Intuition (Gathering and Processing Information)
  • Thinking and Feeling (Evaluations and Decisions)
  • Judging and Perceiving (Organization and Lifestyle Preferences)
Variations between 16 codes provide a matching behavioral profile identifying the dominate personality and unique perception as they interact within the fictional world. This tool is an asset in establishing methods in developing conflict within the plot. The MBTI model assists against the manifestation of any potential Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters.
To understand on how to cultivate your character’s personality by building on the four preferences, read more at The Four Preferences.

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