The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality tool that savvy writers use to create deeply complex and startlingly realistic characters. Yes, it’s as complicated as the name implies. But worry not. There’s a simple explanation. And it’s worth your time if you want to take your fiction to the next level. MBTI is a personality tool, yes. But this isn’t astrology. It’s a science-backed explanation of how humans process and use information.
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Fortune 555 companies use MBTI to find the perfect match for high-level career positions. People use it to make sense of their lives, to find spouses, and to understand their children. Since INTJs are among the rarest personality types (among women, INTJ is the rarest type), you might be surprised it’s the most often used yet least understood type in fiction. You’ll find INTJs cast in villain roles everywhere. From Professor Moriarty and Lex Luther to Emperor Palpatine and Khan, INTJs are the personality type that people love to hate.
Of course, these examples are just from fiction. In real life, do-gooders like Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton were INTJs. Jane Austin and CS Lewis were also INTJs. So why is the divide so vast between these real life INTJ heroes and the villains they become in fiction? If you want to write a great story, you need to know the pitfalls when it comes to INTJ character design.
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Don’t feel bad. If writing an INTJ were easy, every writer would do it. Here are a few reasons why INTJ characters are a challenge for writers. INTJs hate small talk. To the INTJ, talking about inanities like the weather and how many siblings you have is like slamming your head against a stone wall—painful, with no discernible payoff.
An INTJ who is genuinely interested in you is more likely to ask how you deal with despair when confronted with mortality or how your concept of god has evolved through the years. This startles people. And the INTJ has become aware that others find this line of discussion uncomfortable. Since small talk is still too painful, though, most INTJs withdraw instead. INTJs are also terrible at explaining their thoughts sometimes.
This makes it even tougher to understand them. The INTJ doesn’t think linearly. That makes translating their thoughts into language extremely difficult. In fact, explaining things to others is often so exhausting that if your INTJ struggles to explain something to you, you can bank that he has both a high opinion of you and your intelligence. Most INTJs have been called unfeeling machines.
This is because INTJs hide their emotions. To the INTJ, it’s just polite and appropriate.