All People Are Basically Good

Have you ever known someone who believes in the inherent goodness of people? Sure, there are skeptics out there–people who say that others are out to get them, who espouse the “dog eat dog” mentality and cut into line when they are in a hurry. And there are those who “forgive” these negative people, giving them the benefit of the doubt because, as they say, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Women like these don’t care much for domineering attitudes, preferring to hear and understand everyone’s perspectives before making judgments. But once they’ve made up their mind, they’re all in, throwing everything they’ve got into the project. When the going gets tough, their far-reaching vision keeps them from distractions. Knowing they’re doing something meaningful gives them a sense of purpose and the courage to see it through to the end.

These women give until it hurts because they can’t save everyone. Their drive often sends them down a path of self-neglect, forgetting to do the everyday and mundane in lieu of loftier goals. They forget that the forest, beautiful as it may be, is still composed of trees. They take failure and criticism personally, and when they can’t satisfy everyone, no one is happy.

Often, they are private, reserved and self-conscious. But their need for these qualities contribute to self-doubt as lofty goals take time to reach. Just as often, they dream of the perfect relationship and plan the ideal celebrations only to be drenched by imperfection and are devastated when loving relationships require work. Can anyone say, “Hopeless Romantic?”

Try giving your characters these qualities and see how they change your POV Character Arc. You just might find a deeper, more vibrant story evolving in ways you never thought of before.

Right Now, Don’t Waste This Moment

The world is meant to be felt and experienced. Every day is a performance, and there is no time for waxing philosophical. The future will take care of itself, but because time marches inexorably forward, some men choose to seize the moment rather than let it pass by. I know it seems strange, but some men love to pay attention to people, almost always have something to talk about.

Have you ever known a man like that? I do. I think fondly on “Jim” as the man who can B.S. on command. He was happiest when interacting with people, and whether the conversation was social or down-to-business, he found supreme joy in surrounding himself with people.

As expected, Jim was a poor long-term planner, but damn! if every day wasn’t fun, whether working or playing. He always had a smile on his face and a joke, usually bane, on the tip of his tongue.

And, yes, he often would say what he thought was needed when avoiding conflict. As you can imagine, his intimate partners were many, short-lived, and free-spirited as he was.

Imagine my surprise when he, as he got older, found someone he wanted to stay with for the rest of his life? “Give it a couple of years,” I said. I was wrong. It’s been several years now and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no end in sight.

What about a character who embraces change like this as a character arc? I can think of a dozen ways to structure a story to include such a personality. Can you?

Loyal To A Fault

Some women, 6.3 percent of them, according to one study, are strong in both self-confidence and principles. That’s not to say the remaining ninety-four percent aren’t principled and confident, but these traits are especially strong in this type of woman. They use these qualities to protect their families with admirable consistency, avoiding emotional roller-coasters with stubborn belief. While they work to exemplify truthfulness and reliability, doing what they say they’ll do, their stubbornness often prevents them from comprehending other possibilities that might work, too busy doing what they know works… at least last time.

It is difficult to “let their hair down” fearing to look the fool. For these women, a detour off the proficient beaten path, breathtaking as it might be, passes by them as they worry about reaching their destination an hour late, hurting loved ones by rejecting the suggested detour too harshly.

Because they take pride in taking roles of community organizers, working hard to bring everyone together, especially regarding traditional values that hold communities and families together, it’s no wonder they are in demand. My guess, looking into my crystal ball, is that our first lady president will be just this sort of woman.

This personality type makes for creating great characters and supporting characters in our stories. Who doesn’t like a strong-willed leader who stands for traditional values? Who can’t see an antagonist standing against the new upcoming ideologies? When embracing change and chaos to adopt the new philosophy is displayed as the only path, this woman will fight tooth and nail against it.

Now that sounds like a new story unfolding, doesn’t it?

Supporting Flawed Characters

Men are strong and powerful, protective, and sometimes destructive in order to create, right? Not always. Sometimes, men become emotional. Some men avoid conflict rather than rush toward it. These men are too worried about the here and now to plan for the future—in relationships, financial matters, careers, and everything in between.

For these men, their aversion to conflict creates a tendency to be observant—too observant. They notice small changes—anything out of the norm. Emotional tension, especially from a partner, is conflict and they take everything personal. Nearly always, these men will bend over backward to please and often become annoyed, or worse—manipulative and passive-aggressive, when unspoken desires are not fulfilled by their partners. They operate from a belief that they have done x, and y and therefore deserve z without having to ask for it. Because asking is weak.

Conversations with these men are often fun and sometimes quirky, but never deep, especially about themselves. They prefer to remain closed rather than open themselves to criticism and pain.

When writing scenes, keep in mind these tendencies. Believe it or not, a male character who is not the alpha-male might just win over your critics because even supporting characters have flaws. It makes them real.

Integrity Without Self-incrimination

It’s not hard to find women with integrity. Most prefer to own self-descriptions that include terms like dutiful, responsible, calm, effective and efficient. But find one that is not stubborn, who can’t consider others’ emotional reactions before they act, and who refuses to blame themselves when they become overwhelmed and can’t deliver on promises? Good luck.

All characters in our stories must bear weaknesses if they are to be believable and endearing. When writing a scene that contains an ISTJ female, instead of focusing on their qualities, such as the strength of their will in creating or maintaining order, highlight their inability to be sensitive to the needs of others. Or maybe create drama by having this character not bend the rules, or become highly judgmental of others with opposing views.

Do you want to get deeper into their personality? Go to your quiet place and conjure a memory, the darker, the better, of a time when a mistake tore at your self-image. Dig deep. Open yourself to the pain of the moment and how you thought, at the time, that you would never, ever live it down.

Write from that dark place, and give your characters flaws.

Idealistic, But Unable To Follow-Through

Have you ever known a woman who has a lot of great ideas, but seldom completed projects? They are likely energetic and enthusiastic about their ideas! Because they are intuitive, they usually communicate well, regardless of the depth of the conversation. In other words, they equally enjoy deep conversations and fun, relaxing or playful times.

Through disdain of cookie-cutter homes, lifestyles, and people they often stand out in a crowd, giving off their own vibe, wearing less fashionable clothes, and conforming less often than most.

These personality types make great characters in our stories. Think distractions, funny tidbits of behavior that adds color and liveliness to an otherwise humdrum, though necessary scene. Women with these traits are often found surrounded by people, so they come in and out of scenes with ease, interact with other characters from an intuitive, perceptive perspective, quickly lose focus and attention-span, and disappear rapidly.

What other ways can you think of using this personality type in your stories?

Men Connected to Emotions?

Seventy-Five out of a thousand men feel emotions profoundly and genuinely. These are men who use their hearts to make decisions, who while just as logical as others value their sense of morality more. These are men who do not struggle with understanding emotions. Because of this, their need for freedom and sense of adventure often drives them to unknowingly hurt others around them.

Intensely passionate, imaginative, and curious often leads these men down strange and adventurous roads, visualizing things that resonate with others around them. Thus, they are fiercely independent and unpredictable. They are overly competitive with fluctuating self-esteem.

This is because many have not yet learned that self-worth does not come from outside. It comes from within. Failures are often seen as weakness and are thus avoided. Sometimes at all costs. Their passion leads them to try things with their whole souls. Imaginations tell them what is possible, but perfection rarely comes with the first attempt.

Imagine, if you will, Steve Rogers (Captain America) without all that confidence. Even as a ninety-pound weakling he oozed self-worth in spite of his low physical capabilities. What are you left with? A perfect Main Character.

Living Life To The Fullest

Nearly ten percent of women, according to the distribution charts, are introspective, yet warm and inviting adventurists. They deal with people according to how they feel about them, or how they fit into internal value systems. While striving to consistently act within a strong set of values, they tend to rebel against anything that conflicts with that goal. More to the point, I believe, they rebel against anything standing in their way of living according to their beliefs.

They are likely to be kind, gentle, and sensitive when dealing with someone not close to them while keeping them at emotional distances. Actions win over musing, but their heart guides their decisions.

Because they take life seriously, but because they are both extraordinarily perceptive and generously warm and caring, they desire to serve with their whole hearts. This makes life challenging, their perfectionism often causing intense self-scrutiny with unnecessary harshness.

As secondary characters, this personality is excellent for foiling aggressive and tyrannical characters or contrasting the beauty of life against logic and cold rationale.

ISFJ-Finally, A Man Who Feels

The vast majority of men, over a third of the distribution of personality traits tend to rely on logic, rule by thought rather than emotion, and place facts over other people’s feelings.

Are all men cruel, especially when it comes to competition in the boardroom, field, or gameboard? In my experience, many men feel so inadequate about their position in life, that they put other men down to build themselves up. In the world of competition, tactics that appear mean-spirited are even welcomed. They cheer the champion as he defeats the opponent all the while thankful not to be the one facing the king of the hill.

There are some, however, who understand there is power in vulnerability. 8.1% of men are kind-hearted, gentle, and value harmony. Some realize that more is accomplished through mutual cooperation than through competition. These men bring out the best in others.

How many Psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it’s gotta wanna change. Significant changes occur in people’s lives only when they are ready to face the fact that they are not perfect, not the best, don’t have to be the king of the dung-hill. Those that facilitate those changes, however, are the real heroes.

There is a war-champion somewhere in all men. We love to cheer on the underdog, scream in excitement when the miracle play, the hail-Mary, is up for grabs and through sheer force of will and determination is caught, and the tides turn. We sit on the edge of our seats rooting for our team and the closer the score, the more we scream at the screen against the unjust referee, the blatant call, the obvious missed opportunity.

There is also somewhere deep in the recesses of every man the magician bearing the wisdom of the ages. Generosity feels good, even more so when there are no strings attached.

The difference between men who rely on logic and those concerned with others feelings come down to one thing, I believe. Do each of us have the brass knuckles to find and live with passion. What is the difference between passion and anger, an excitement that creates opportunities and ferocity that cowers? Attachments. Those who live without attachment to outcomes are free to experience the world. Those who do things, everything, with an expected outcome, especially when those expectations concern other people, will always live with disappointment. And it is often those disappointments, and the fear of continual disappointment, that turn passion into outbursts.

Little boys are taught to ignore their emotions and push them deep inside. Since emotions unattended eventually seek out the light, they come out of us in waves of torrent and frustration; passions with nowhere to run.

Women Entertaining Darkness

The third most common personality type for women is the Performer (ESFP): Extraverts who love being the center of attention. While they almost crave the spotlight, they can also be thoughtful explorers who love learning and sharing new insights with others.

Never underestimate a performers’ ability to read people, who use their interpersonal tool set to acquire loyalty. Because they are warm, generous, friendly, and sympathetic, they can appear to be concerned about others’ well-being. While underneath, they may harbor such qualities as greed, lust, power-lust from the majority of their associates.

This combination could make for some very interesting villains, don’t you think?