You’ve been diligently preparing for NaNoWriMo this year. You’ve nailed down a plot, pigeonholed it into a genre, fleshed out your mood, theme and started to develop some conflict. You have a pretty good idea how it will begin, where it will go and some thoughts on where to end it. Then you turn to your main character. You’ve been quietly letting him sit on the sidelines while you prepare the stage for his glorious arrival upon it. He or she has been standing in the wings, just out of the lights, cast in shadows. You go through all of the tips and tricks that you’ve been able to find in blogs, books and through Google searches, and you’re starting to see him in a light that will allow you to write him. In one exercise you look over the Meyer Briggs’ Personality Test Instrument and decide that he or she is an INFJ. Great, one of the rarest personality types in the world… how do you write that?
For my money, there is no better way to understand this personality type than by talking to one. So, without further ado, hello, good morning, my name is Darius and I am an INFJ. The Introvert Intuitive Feeling Judge, sometimes called the Counselor and Idealist in various other personality tests, comprises 1% of the population, making it one of the rarest types of personalities around. To give you an idea of how to write an INFJ, I’m going to break down each section and then give you some practical examples from my own personality and life.
Introverted – Introverts are shy, quiet, reflective and normally associate with a small circle of friends, rather than larger groups. Wholeheartedly yes on this one. I am most certainly introverted. I do better in small groups of people, normally under 7, than I do with larger crowds. Even then, among close friends, I can still be quiet. It does not mean that I am not engaged, I believe in saying what needs to be said in the most concise manner possible to put across my thoughts. I would rather use two sentences to express myself than five pages of conversation. When I am in social situations I become drained. It takes effort and energy for me to engage with groups of people. The only way for me to gain that energy back is to get away from them, to be alone, in quiet and solitude. That is where an INFJ recharges his batteries.
Intuition – In the perceiving department there are two side: intuition and sensing. The INFJ takes in their information through intuition, rather than relying on their five senses. This could be a hard part of the INFJ to write. From my point of view intuition is innate. I still receive information from my senses, but when I need to make a decision about a person, a place or an event, those details go out the window, and the conclusion comes from my gut. I can look at a person and instantly know if I will like them or not, sometimes without even having spoken to them. I have been known to simply hear of an event happening and with no further facts on the matter decide that I do or do not want to attend. The INFJ character makes quick decisions, most times based simply upon how they feel about the subject rather than anything tangible.
Feeling – That brings us here, the opposite side of thinking. I am not saying that INFJ’s do not think, please do not mistake me there. I think all the time, in fact I do quite a bit of thinking, perhaps more than normal or more than I should. However, it is normally not thoughts that sway my choices, it is my feelings. Tied in with intuition, these feelings are much like the tides and the moon. One affects the other, and they work in harmony. In another light, I care less about what someone thinks of something, I care more about how they feel. When I am speaking with someone, I listen not to the words they are saying, but to the way they say it, to the emotions that play through their voice, their body language and tone. You could sit and tell me how much you love my writing, but if I am reading your body language, it might say something different.
Judgment – The two sides here are Judgment and Perception. Most people take in what is happening around them and go with the flow. INFJ’s do not. I, myself, prefer a bit of order to my life. I like things to happen a certain way, I love to be prepared and will plan for outcomes; sometimes even if they are extremely unlikely. I wake up normally around the same time every day. I follow a routine of preparing for my day and when that routine is interrupted it can have an effect. If I feel I might clash with someone over a topic, I have probably planned out the conversation ahead of time and looked at the various directions that discussion could go. This might be days, weeks or even years in advance. On the other hand, I could plan it all out in the three minutes you are saying your piece. Either way, I want to be ready.
INFJ’s come from many different walks of life. To give you some further resources in writing your INFJ character, here are some of the famous personalities throughout history who were INFJ’s – Jimmy Carter, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Crystal, Nicole Kidman, and Mark Harmon. If you are a Game of Thrones fan you may find this interesting as well. Characters from a Song of Ice & Fire who are INFJ’s – Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow and Maester Luwin. I guess that explains why Daenerys and Jon Snow are two of my favorite characters. 😉
There it is. More information on the actual life of an INFJ. I hope that this information helps you in writing your characters, breathing life into them and making them more real for your readers to enjoy. Cheers!