Many neophyte writers struggle with giving their characters each an individual voice simply because the writer is unable to venture beyond of their own personality to explore their characters. If your story suffers from trite, unoriginal characters, there are two easy strategies to fix the problem. Using these methods, only a minimal amount of research is needed to create unique characters, each with a distinctive voice.
1. Assign your characters a zodiac sign and have them act the part:
The first method is assigning each of your characters a zodiac sign. Whether you believe in astrology is irrelevant. Each zodiac sign comes it’s own distinct set of personality traits. Once you do so, you can then easily “get into the mind” of your character and determine how the character talks and acts in a situation. For example, the zodiac sign “Virgo” is associated with very rational, logical, introverted individuals that spend a lot of time focusing on the ideas within their own minds. Individuals that are Virgos are commonly misunderstood as detached and isolated. Knowing this, you now have a profile for your character and can determine how your character will act in different situations. Use a search engine to find in-depth descriptions of all the zodiac signs and choose your character’s signs accordingly. Consistency is the key. Your characters can’t simply switch signs or do something out of character in the middle of the story as you run the risk of alienating the reader.
2. Take the MBTI and use the results to shape your characters:
The second method is a bit more complicated and requires more research. However, with this strategy, you will gain nearly endless insight on the personality traits of your characters. This method involves assigning each of your characters a personality temperament using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, also known as the MBTI, is a psychometric test designed to discover an individual’s personality type. After taking the test, the test taker is assigned one of 16 personality types in the form of a 4-digit code. Each letter of the code represents a different personality trait. Take the “INTJ” temperament type for example. The “I” stands for introversion. The “N” stands for intuition. The “T” stands for thinking, and the “J” stands for judgment. Similar to the Virgo, the INTJ is a highly analytical individual that are less sociable than other personality types that has little patience with emotional spin or sensationalism.
There are 16 personality types that the MBTI can identify. Use a search engine to find free versions of the MBTI. Take the test and answer the questions how you think your character would respond to them. Once you receive your character’s 4-digital temperament code, search for the code on Wikipedia, where you’ll find a treasure trove of information on the MBTI and the 16 personality types.
Using these two strategies, you can craft memorable characters that your audience can relate to in some way or another. Even if the audience has a negative view of the character because the character is similar to a real-life person in their lives, you’ve still created an emotional connection with them. An emotional connection is the driving force that will keep your audience happily moving along in the story. Remember, the key is consistency. Your characters must act realistically. If you follow one of the strategies (or a mixture of both), you’ll have no problem creating engaging characters.