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Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Hero Type of Role

Welcome to the second post in my Myers-Briggs series! In my first post, I defined some of the terms in the Myers-Briggs and explained my experience with the test. If you missed the blog post, you can read it HERE. I suggest checking it out if you are unfamiliar with the Myers-Briggs.

Otherwise, let's get started!

Instead of doing sixteen separate posts, I've decided to combine the Extroverted and Introverted version of types into one post because, despite having notable differences, similar types often have very similar roles in stories, which is the focus of this series. Today, I'd like to tell you about two types that are often used as the Hero of a story- the ENFP and the INFP.

Graphic designed by Brittish Designs & Sahlin Studio

ENFP- The Champion


"You're right! What I am about to do, it doesn't make sense, it's not logical, it is a gut feeling! I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I only know what I can do." -James T. Kirk, Star Trek Into Darkness

ENFPs are notoriously creative, quick-thinking, and decisive. They are excellent problem-solvers, often inventing unique and hitherto unheard of solutions. They are people-centric and tend to genuinely care about others, resulting in a contagious likableness. On top of it all, they are typically leaders, especially when they feel passion for a cause. ENFPs sometimes struggle with the follow-through to a project, and are sometimes given to bouts of self-pity. ENFPs also have a romantic bent, and sometimes struggle with exiting an unhealthy relationship because of their tendency to never give up.

INFP- The Idealist


"I have fought griffins, witches, bandits. I have been punched, poisoned, pelted with fruit and all the while I have to hide who I really am because if anyone finds out Uther will have me executed. Sometimes I feel as though I'm being pulled in so many directions I don't know which way to turn."- Merlin, BBC Merlin

Unlike their extroverted counterparts, INFPs typically find solace in their thoughts and feelings rather than their solutions and actions. They are often laid-back, kindhearted, and genuinely care for others. INFPs are unbiased mediators because of their natural desire for peace and harmony. However, don't think for one second INFPs are necessarily meek souls. If their ire is aroused, or if they feel passion for a cause, they will fight ceaselessly, often ignoring logic and personal needs, until that cause in won. Unlike ENFP, they have no trouble with the follow-through to a project. Like ENFP, they sometimes struggle with unhealthy relationships.

What This Means in Fiction

More than any of the other types, ENFPs and INFPs consistently house the heroes. I believe this is because both ENFP and INFP types have ideals that are not only lauded, but also often necessary, in a hero characters. The iNtuitiveness helps the type see and understand "the big picture". It helps the hero quickly grasp and clue together the villain's dastardly plan from seemingly unrelated events. Now, I'm not saying a Sensing type could not do this. They certainly could, but perhaps not as quickly as an iNtuitive. This helps keep plots efficient. The Feeling type helps make the hero likable. Readers like someone who cares for others. Readers like someone who feels a burning passion for an ideal, a promise, a person. And the Perceiving type creates an odd paradox within an iNtuitive type (always interesting in a fictional character). Perceiving types base judgments on past experiences and problems. They are often quickly decisive and impulsive. This creates a hero that can read into situations and discover solutions (iNtuitive) but then quickly make a judgment on those solutions and immediately act (Perceiver). Again, it's a matter of efficiency. Stories need action. Perceivers are very good at creating action.

ENFP Fictional Characters

Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus), Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games), James T. Kirk (Star Trek TOS, Star Trek 2009), Rapunzel (Disney's Tangled), Ariel (Disney's The Little Mermaid), Edmond Dantes (Count of Monte Cristo), Rose Tyler (Doctor Who), Nymphadora Tonks (Harry Potter)

INFP Fictional Characters

Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings), Merlin (BBC Merlin), Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre), Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia), Alice Kingsley (Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland), Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean), Waxillium Ladrian (The Alloy of Law)

Have I Ever Written an ENFP and/or an INFP?

As a matter of fact, yes I have! Coal Flame from Ember Flame is an ENFP. He is also, I believe, the most naturally heroic character in the Leverage Series. Morality and selflessness seems to come much easier to him than it does to the other characters. Cecilia Lester from Esprit de la Rose is an INFP and she had one of the most difficult personalities I have ever written, but she was worth it.

Common Cliches

The most common cliche writers (including myself) struggle with when writing these types is ye olde Mary Sue... or John Sue. John Joe? Whatever the male version is called. Writers have a tendency to make these types unrealistically perfect. It is an easy mistake to make. Their personalities are naturally hardwired to be sacrificial and passionate and caring and moral. They naturally are heroes. 

A good way to avoid this is to give the character a flaw... bonus points if it stems from their greatest strength. As an example, I'll use Percy Jackson and Frodo Baggins to demonstrate my point. 

Percy Jackson's fatal flaw, as stated in the books, is his zealous loyalty towards those he cares about. This is also his greatest strength, it's the thing that keeps him going, the thing that makes him capable of accomplishing anything. It's also the thing that gets him stuck on an island as a guinea pig, or trading places with Atlas, or blinding him to the betrayal of a friend. 

Frodo is such a sweetheart. And yes, that sentence felt weird and almost heretical to type, given the epicness and vastness of the Lord of the Rings. It feels just... wrong to label one of the most incredible characters with a simpery affectionate term. However, it is true. Frodo is extremely caring and extremely sacrificial. He loves his friends. He loves his country. He loves the people in his country, even those who he has never met, even those who poke fun at him behind his back. He wants the best for them and is willing to go to any measures to save them. And that, ultimately, is one of his character flaws. He refuses the advice of Sam in terms of Gollum's treachery, determined to believe that Gollum can return fully to Smeagol, determined to believe that Gollum can change. Remember the unhealthy relationship problem these types have? This is it.

There are plenty of other flaws you could attempt as well. Merlin is willing to sacrifice friends and people for a destiny, Kirk is overly impulsive and often does not listen to logic, Jane Eyre struggles between her passion for love and her passion for morality, Ariel makes thoughtless decisions, Alice is reluctant to do anything because she does not slay. The possibilities are endless.

Relationships

Let's start with the obvious, shall we?

Romantically, ENFPs are most likely to be attracted to INFPs (fancy that!), INFJs, and ENFJs.

INFPs are most likely to be attracted to ENFPs, ENFJs, and INFJs.

Both types are likely to have dislike for ENTJs and INTJs (funnily enough, these types are the types most commonly used for villains).

As for friends, both ENFPs and INFPs are extremely personable and tolerant. They are likely to get along with anyone whose morals are similarly inclined. Both are also teachable, INFPs in particular, so mentors could be any type.

Closing Tidbits

When writing an ENFP or an INFP, the important thing to remember is that they are only human. Though you (or the character) might pile on the responsibilities, there is only so much anyone can take before they crash. ENFPs and INFPs are resilient, but even they have a breaking point. If you want to create a strong character that will keep the story interesting, find that breaking point, let the villain find that breaking point, and use it. And then make the hero overcome it. Because ultimately, that is what these types do best. They overcome. So let them, but you have to trip them up first.

Questions!

Are you writing an ENFP or an INFP? What are your thoughts on these types? And who do you like better, Nyota Uhura from Star Trek, or Arwen from the film versions of Lord of the Rings? (This will help me determine which post to do next) I'm voting Uhura! :D

17 comments:

  1. Great post! I loved reading this. :D
    I am not writing an ENFP or a INFP right now, and I am trying to think if I ever have... I think I had a INFP, his name was Ian. I must say I rather liked him.
    Since I have not seen Star Trek, I will have to say Arwen. :)

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    1. Thanks! INFPs are very likable. I wonder if anyone has ever written a villain INFP or ENFP???

      I love Arwen too! <3

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  2. I love this post! Looking forward to more! :)
    Arwen is one of my favorite characters from Lord of the Rings! Are you going to do Uhura from the Star Trek TV show or the new movies?

    -
    Ruth Newton

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    1. Thanks!

      I love Arwen too. I'm doing movie Uhura since she is a bit stronger than the TV show character. :)

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  3. Fantastic! Who's next?

    I suppose I'll choose Arwen by default. I'm sorry to say I don't like Star Trek so much. Kirk is too illogical.

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    1. Thanks! I'll decide which types to do next based on who gets the most votes, Arwen or Uhura (looks like Arwen so far! :D )

      Ah well. Kirk is an ENFP. ;)

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  4. Great post! I have to say, I laughed out loud at your description of an INTJ in your last post. It's way too accurate! I'm an INT/FJ and I know we can be super intense (and sarcastic...).

    Also, I loved that you used Merlin as your example. ^.^ For the next post, I can't really say. I've seen Star Trek, but not enough to know the characters well. But I'd love to learn about them! Otherwise, I'd vote for Arwen. :)

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    1. Thanks! Yay! Another INTJ friend! (I don't know any in real life, so I get really excited when I meet others over the Internet XD). Haha, my mom is always telling me to chill. Apparently, I get a little too intense about things I am passionate about.

      Oh, how I love Merlin. So sad that it ended. :'(

      It looks like Arwen has won this round! I am so excited about writing her type! ^_^

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    2. Yay!! I don't really know any other INTJs IRL, and yes, it's super exciting to meet another one. ^.^

      And yes. Merlin. I cried at that ending, and I will be forever waiting for the sequel.

      Looking forward to your next post!!

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    3. I would just love it if BBC would post a spin-off Merlin, like a 1-series modern-day Merlin. It would be filled with hilarious Arthur-not-understanding-modern-technology jokes and some deep, somewhat cheesy, discussions about their current lives and adjusting, and lots of friendship moments. It would end with both of them getting to live just normal lives. The spin-off will probably never happen, but hey, I can dream.

      Thanks! :)

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  5. Thanks for sharing! I've been using Myers-Briggs types lately to help me with my characters in writing... I am extremely extroverted, and they help me a lot with my introverted characters.

    I had a quick question for you - how do you stay inspired at the half-way point of writing a first draft? I currently have 8 chapters in a novel I'm working on, and I have lots more of the story to tell, but I am not as inspired as when I began the novel. Any advice for staying inspired long enough to finish it? Thanks again for the awesome post!
    ~Mikayla

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  6. Thanks! I'm so glad the post is helping! ^_^

    Ah. The dreaded middle-section. I have fought this foe many a time. For me personally, it always helps to plot out, scene by scene, what is going to happen next. This helps me make sure I have a clear idea of where the story is going, and it helps me possibly cut out any scenes that are unnecessary. It also helps me find the scenes that will probably be boring, and then I can brainstorm and think of ways to make them more interesting. This usually gets me pretty excited about writing them. Got a boring but necessary campfire explanation scene? Try to find a different location, or something more interesting for the characters to be doing, like hunting wolves, or arguing, or even just pacing!

    If that doesn't help, it might be good to take a short break from the novel. Emphasis on short. You don't want to be away too long. I learned that the hard way, trust me! But a few days spent gathering inspiration- finding cool images on Pinterest that fit your novel, maybe making a playlist with a song for each character, or writing a short story about a minor character- can seriously boost the creativity.

    I hope this helped! Good luck on your novel! I'm sure, though it might feel dull right now, it's going to be completely epic! Keep at it! :D

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  7. Thank you! Sorry, I realized after publishing that comment that it didn't have much to do with the post topic ;) But I really appreciate the advice!

    ~Mikayla

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    1. No problema, senorita! I love helping in any way I can! ^_^

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  8. I am really really enjoying this series of posts. I never thought about personality types for characters before... but now that you've brought it up I am seeing that it is a very useful thing to do! You're helping with my editing, so THANK YOU! :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm so glad it helps. Exploring Myers-Briggs really helped me with my characters, so I'm happy to know it is working for others as well! ^_^

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  9. I am an INFP and I actually have a character who is an INFP and a character who is an ENFP. This is actually very helpful. My INFP is pretty easy to write because he's based off of myself but I'm actually struggling to figure out how to make my ENFP less one sided. He's basically comedy relief right now and I want to get some emotional stuff going for him and figuring out his breaking point is a good idea.

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