A lot of writers suggest using Myers-Briggs personality types to deepen one’s knowledge of their story’s characters. It’s an interesting concept because if you do manage to use and understand Myers-Briggs effectively it adds credibility to how believable your character can be.
Being an INTP (Introvert Intuitive Thinking Perceptive) I first think to myself why would you need this if there are so many real people in your surroundings to base your characters on? There are so many people different around me and I watch and analyze many of them to understand what they do, how they do it, and why they do what they do. I don’t need some personality test to tell me what it means to be extroverted or introverted. But then I think, even though I see this other person in front of me and see what they do, I don’t exactly understand the motivations behind their actions and feelings.And this is where Myers-Briggs can help a writer understand their characters better — it can help you answer the innate “why” of a character, not just the “well the hero wants to save the world.”
Understanding the character’s personality will provide a believable why does the character feel that way and how would he or she specifically enact saving the world? (Just as an example.) Myers-Briggs can be especially helpful if you don’t actually know someone who’s like the character you’re creating. Once you understand why someone does the things they do it is much easier to convey those actions and motivations effectively to a reader.
So to help provide writers with a more user friendly, writer oriented way of using Myers-Briggs types to build characters Hannah Heath created the MBTI Blog Challenge: How to Write an… I feel honored to be among the first contributors to this grassroots writer’s database for Myers-Briggs. I think this is a fantastic idea. Thanks Hannah!
Here’s how the MBTI Blog Challenge works:
- Write a blog post about your own personal Myers Briggs type. This is to give a more personal flair on the personality type and give writers a potential example to base their character from.
- Include things that make your type special, things your type fears, what makes your type happy, angry, or passionate.
- Be sure to add the label “MBTI Blog Challenge: How to Write (insert your personality type)” so that it will be easily searchable for other writers who wish to use this database for their own writing pleasure.
- Tag other writers to take the challenge so that the MBTI Blog Challenge will grow exponenically and we can have a tone more data for us writers to use to build characters.
Use the insights gained from MBTI Blog Challenge posts to create your characters.
- Be an awesome writer.
Now for the nitty gritty…
MBTI Blog Challenge: How to Write INTP by an INTP
INTP stands for Introvert Intuitive Thinking Perceiving
There’s no one quite like an INTP and we’re proud of it.
We tend to fall into one to two categories:
- We know that we’re strange, unique, different, abnormal, atypical, or whatever other adjective you’d like to use. And you know what we don’t really care what other people think. In fact we are proud of the fact that we don’t exactly blend in with the crowd.
- Other people are acutely aware of how different we are and when it’s pointed out to us we look at them with a glaze look in our eyes and don’t really understand what the problem is. Shouldn’t everyone be like this? I thought I was the normal one.
Usually an INTP who is self-aware will most likely fall into category #1 where as the INTP who is not so self-aware will be a case of category #2.
INTPs are fiercely logical; the most logically precise of all the MBTI personality types from what I’ve read (though I think the INTJ is a fairly decent rival in this department). We’re usually that brilliant scientist or engineer that no one really understands (Albert Einstein was a known INTP), a deep thinker or philosopher (like Socrates), or someone pragmatic but who can also think and dream of the fantastic at the same time (like J. K. Rowling).
INTPs love patterns and puzzles — almost everything we do or everything we see turns into one. For example ever since I was a child it was always my job to load the dishwasher because I could always load it the most efficiently so that more dishes could fit and all get clean in the end — see a puzzle. Even understanding people becomes a puzzle to unravel, understand, and realize that there are patterns to the perceived chaos. Note that Carl Jung was also an INTP and much of Myers-Briggs personality types are based off of his research and observations.
An INTP’s thirst or knowledge is intense. They can often be considered fickle because we change our minds all the time or won’t really commit to a single answer to a question or problem. What you have to understand is that there’s always a reason for changing our minds and it’s usually because of new data that was discovered that points out that what we thought before was wrong and our thoughts, beliefs, or opinions must be changed accordingly. INTPs also have conviction and strong opinions until something or someone comes along that gives us a better argument, shows us something new, or provokes us into thinking farther than we’ve ever thought before.
INTPs are often accused of being too much in our heads or being far up in the clouds instead of being on earth. This is where the idea of the “absent minded professor” comes from. When a thought catches our attention, that’s all there is in the world. When I’m in the zone (whether that’s writing a new scene for my story, fixing the water heater, or building a chicken coop) the whole world disappears around me like I’ve been sucked into a vortex and nothing else exists except for me, my mind, and what I’m doing. I forget to eat, I ignore the people around me, and any other responsibilities escape my reality until someone interrupts me or my task is complete.
So what makes an INTP happy?
Solitude – INTPs enjoy their alone time. Solitude is how INTPs recharge and feel at peace. We often need to be left alone to think our deep thoughts, to do our own thing, or simply recharge from the exhausting task of being around other people. Don’t get me wrong, we love people, we can’t live without other people around. I mean there’s a need for everyone in the world. Who else would grow the food we eat or build the internet we use to do research. Yeah, other people are important but INTPs just prefer to not have to interact with the general public. Besides do you really want to be in the same room with someone who ignores you as they’re experimenting with potentially explosive chemicals while building a home made rocket or disturb me when I’m only a thought away from creating the world’s next best selling novel? Do you want to ensure our wrath? Oh wait. That last bit is an INFP’s tendency. 😉
Deep conversation – Deep conversation is one step away from heaven for an INTP. If you want to talk about the meaning of life, what makes the world tick, debate the merits of third person versus first person narratives, an INTP is all ears. Engaging an INTP in meaningful, intellectual conversation is sometimes the only way to get one of us to speak to you. Conversing about ideas, imaginings, and the unknown are the most exciting and the only conversations worth having. Asking an INTP “How’s the weather?” or “Did you watch Dancing with the Stars last night?” are a sure way of either being ignored or receiving a “What?” response in conjunction with a confused why-are-you-talking-to-me expression (unless of course that INTP happens to be a dancer or a meteorologist — for sure they are out there).
Exploring new thoughts and ideas – We debate with people in our field and become energized by the exchange of thoughts and ideas. When we’re not dreaming up alternate universes or devising that new way of painting, we’re exploring the cosmos or executing some experiment to develop a tractor beam. We don’t tend to be your general doctor (way too much human contact) but we may be your surgeon or the PHD or MD who sits in the laboratory discovering the cure for cancer.
What irritates an INTP most?
Small talk – Nothing kills an INTP more than small talk or conversation without a direct purpose or that waists precious time that we could be spending doing something meaningful. We don’t mind listening to you talk about nothing, but don’t expect us to join in on the conversation unless it’s really worth the energy.
Waiting time – Generally an INTP doesn’t see the point in waisting time dressing up for appearance’s sake. Applying endless hair products to hair just to make you look like you just got out of bed or spending hours fussing over the right color coordinated outfit or applying makeup every time you leave your bedroom feels irksome and pointless. Most female INTPs are considered tomboys as children because they are the exact opposite of girly girls. Who has time for painting their nails and making sure their hair falls just so if everything’s going to get messed up anyway digging the new garden or simply going grocery shopping? I know I’ve got better things to do. And if we do end up dressing up or pampering ourselves with some frivolous spa day it’s for a good reason like a wedding or a first date.
Irrational behavior – There’s nothing worse that not understanding irrational behavior, especially if it’s our own irrational feelings or behavior. Again feelings and actions should be examined logically and the appropriate cores of action will be enacted.
Strict rules and restraints kills our creative minds – We are always looking at how to do the impossible. It’s not that we dislike rules entirely, there is a need for some, but under the right circumstances rules are meant to be broken or adjusted to suit the needs of the situation. If we are strapped by too many rules, regulations, and restraints it kills any creative spark that we may have and then it completely defeats the purpose of having us around. Our job is to think outside the box remember.
What are the INTP’s greatest strengths?
INTPs are Enthusiastic & Driven – When a good idea crosses the mind of an INTP becomes enthusiastic to the point of obsession about that idea and we’re driven see that idea through to the bitter end or until a bigger and shinier idea comes along.
INTPs are Imaginative & Original – For sure INTPs, and maybe INFPs, were the ones that the term “think outside the box” was created for. INFPs are known for their original and imaginative thoughts. This coincides with the artistic as well as the scientific. Whatever an INTP puts their mind into doing they will do it and more than likely not in the conventional manner. We also enjoy taking an existing idea and making it better or taking it to the next step of its evolution.
INTPs are Abstract, analytical thinkers but we’re still open minded – Most INTPs see stuff in their heads, you can have a conversation with them about anything physical, abstract, concrete, theoretical and we generally have a concept of what you’re talking about. We either fill in the blanks ourselves with information that you implied by what you said or we’ll as all the right questions to make the picture clearer. Because we’re able to see the details we’re able to create a larger picture of what’s being discussed or what’s going on in a situation. And because we are so analytical in our thinking when new ideas are discovered we are willing to change our perspectives and are willing to believe in potential realities that haven’t been exactly proven yet. Key work “yet.”
INTPs are Objective – Because of our analytical minds, INTPs are also able to stand back from a situation and be objective. It’s much more difficult if the subject we need to be objective about is ourselves, but it’s still possible with effort and honesty.
INTPs are Honest & straightforward to a fault – This is a double edged sword. I categorize this as both a strength and a weakness. We are generally very trustworthy because there’s a certain amount of naiveté an INTP exhibits in their honesty, well why can’t everyone just be honest about everything? What’s wrong with that? And our analytical minds wire us to be straightforward in or thinking and behavior. Which can make us a little predictable and square.
What are the INTP’s greatest weaknesses?
INTPs are Honest & straightforward to a fault – INTPs don’t have the time or the energy to come up with elaborate lies and beat around the bush when talking to people. Don’t ask me “Do I look fat in this dress?” if you don’t want or can’t handle a direct, honest answer. Usually it will be one of two responses, “yes” or “no.” This could make the INTP look insensitive and mean, but really it’s just that we don’t know how else to answer the question. Personally, I’ve learned over the years to soften my answers to such questions, but I still unintentionally hurt the people around me with my very precise and straightforward responses to questions and situations. I try to explain to my friends that I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but this is how my analytical brain works and I don’t always have the skill to make my words sound extra fluffy so that your feelings don’t get hurt. Sometimes it’s just better to keep my opinions to myself.
INTPs are Private & Withdrawn – Most INTPs are very private and withdrawn. We observe the world around us and it takes a long, long, long, long, long, long, long time for someone to become our friend. Kindred spirits are few and far between. We find it difficult to open up to others and . We tend to live in our heads so much that we sometimes forget we have feelings at all or ignore them all together. This makes it very difficult for others to relate to us and sometimes in turn for us to relate to others.
For INTPs sharing feelings is often like extracting teeth – It’s much easier to discover rational explanations for every situation rather than explain away our feelings. This takes time and it’s a solitary pursuit, not one to be made in public or be witnessed by anyone maybe with the occasional exception of a spouse or best friend. Because we keep our feelings close and hidden from others we come off as aloof. Please don’t be offended when an INTP drops off the face of the earth, it’s nothing personal. And an INTP can go days, weeks, or even moths without talking to other people. We just need time by ourselves to think our own thoughts or be alone because we need to recharge from the day and fill up our reserves so that we can safely interact with society again. It’s not that we don’t love you. We do. We just have a hard time showing it.
Most INTPs suffer from perfectionism – Failure at anything terrifying. That’s why many INTPs tend to be perfectionists, we are plagued by the thought that if it’s not perfect it is guaranteed to fail. Hmm… this is an irrational thought. Damn it! Perhaps that’s my INFP leaning again… But sometimes it is very difficult to overcome self doubt and just be ok with how things are right now. Often I’m plagued with thoughts like “I don’t know enough” or “I need to learn more” or “Maybe I missed something.” I’ll tinker with whatever I’m working on until I feel like it’s met its greatest potential. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t actually finished my novel yet. lol.
Other interesting facts that can deepen your character
INTPs are generally pleased with the simple pleasures in life. We don’t need elaborate parties or gifts. A walk in the park, a movie night, or good conversation along with tasty food is usually enough to satisfy the practical INTP’s romantic and friendship endeavors. Simple is best and usually works out well. We are content sitting in the yard, petting a cat, and soaking up the sun.
INTPs are generally not punctual and they tend to make other people late as well. We work in their own time and in our own way. “It’s not that I wanted to be late. It’s just that I needed an extra five minutes to publish this blog post before I left for the dinner.”
Generally INTPs aren’t very funny, I know I’m not. I’m too serious to be funny, though there are times when I’m funny by accident. Not to say that NO INTP is funny; one notable exception is Tina Fay. But we INTPs certainly appreciate the smart humor of others. Potty humor isn’t worth responding to, but clever, complicated humor that requires some thought is highly prized.
People often confuse INTP and INFP – In my opinion the main difference between the two is that the INTP is much more logical and analytical than the INFP; where as the INFP is more likely ruled by their emotion.
I hope this helps you understand some of the inner workings of an INTP. In fact the way this blog post is constructed and the language I used it fairly typical of an INTP.
Now I challenge the following writers to contribute:
- Intisar Khanani from Books by Intisar
- Abigail Post from Writing Abby
- Shannon A Thompson from Shannon A Thompson
- Rawls E from Rawls E Fantasy
- Tomi Adeyemi from Tomi Adeyemi
If you’ve been tagged don’t feel obligated to participate. I just thought that you should be aware of the BMTI Blog Challenge and hope that you’ll be willing share your knowledge and experience.
If you are reading this post and have not been tagged, please join the challenge. The more the merrier! Sure we’ll have some overlap in personality types, but everyone has their own perspective and that’s what we’re aiming for — more potential character information/insight. Pretty soon we’ll have a BMTI Blog Challenge post on every personality type.
What do you think? Do you think that the BMTI Blog Challenge is a good idea? Was this helpful? Characterizing emotional characters or girly girls are my main weaknesses, as you’ve probably guessed I’m way to logical to understand these people in real life so depicting them on the page is quite challenging. So if you have any insights or suggestions, I’d love your help.