Incurable Curiosity

In-cur-able: (adj.) Not likely to be changed. Cu-ri-os-i-ty: (n) A desire to know.

MBTI and Writing


There are lots of ways writers connect with readers. I’ve been experimenting with the use of MBTI theory in writing, though the way I utilize it depends on whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction. With fiction, it’s all about the characters. With non-fiction, it’s all about the audience.

When I’m writing fiction, I like to assign MBTI types to my characters. It helps me flesh them out, to figure out their quirks and how they interact with the story. It adds a realness to the characters and keeps them consistent. A story about music, for example, may have an ENFJ composer, an ISTJ orchestra leader, an ESFP lighting director, and an ENTJ audience member. Their personalities help me determine how they would react if some not-too-tragic-tragedy (like the second violinist dropping her bow) occurred during a performance. The composer might silently reassure the violinist from his seat in the front row, while the orchestra leader will be freaking out and frantically signaling the cool-headed lighting director to dim the lights as the calculating audience member writes a scathing twitter update.

But anyway……

With non-fiction, I like to have a specific audience in mind, be it one person or a group of people. It helps to have an idea of their type group so that I can communicate ideas more clearly. If I’m writing to concretes (SJ’s or SP’s), I’ll use mostly concrete terms and language. If my target audience is more abstract (NT’s or NF’s), I might use more conceptual language like metaphors and analogies. If I don’t know who will be reading my work, I usually write with a friend or family member in mind – whoever I’d be most likely to discuss the topic with.  This keeps me focused and less likely to drift from style to style.

In my own writing – what won’t be read by anyone else, that is – I tend to hold a line between two different (but very similar) types.

Have you ever experimented with MBTI in writing?


2 thoughts on “MBTI and Writing

  1. I think this would be a good thing for me to experiment with, because by the middle of a story all of my characters have mellowed out into one dumpy, easy-going mess. That really doesn’t make for good story-telling!

  2. Mmm, what an interesting idea Ashley! I’ve never really tried my hand at writing fiction with people in it, but when I do, I’ll to sure to implement your suggestion of giving them MBTI types.

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