The “Boxes” I Put My Characters In

People say it’s bad to put people in boxes, and the same applies to characters. I say that if you know they won’t fit neatly in the box it can help you get to know your character to put them in it. It can help you understand their values and flaws and strengths better. Here are the boxes I’m mostly talking about:

Harry Potter Houses: Yep. I’m a nerd. Although, not a Harry Potter nerd. I have yet to read it. (Long story short: It’s on my tablet and my tablet broke.) However, Pinterest and just HP’s overall popularity have pulled me into the fandom without reading it. I probably have a full mental list of every character who dies, and I am well-acquainted with the houses. I can accurately match my characters to a house, in most cases, and get backed up by a quiz.

Divergent Factions: Yep, more nerdiness. What can I say? I’m a bookworm, of course. I know few writers who aren’t. Anyway… I have read this one, and though I wasn’t a fan of the books I was fascinated by the faction system. This one helps me a lot in getting to know my characters, and it’s another that I can usually accurately match myself and then back up with a quiz.

MBTI: Meyers-Briggs is a sixteen-type system that measures your ratio of introvert-extrovert, intuitive-sensing, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving. This is one I can’t successfully assign my characters on my own because there are a lot of them and there are four pieces. I can almost always tell you whether a character is I or E (introvert or extrovert), but beyond that I entrust typing to the test.

Alignment: This is a new one that I haven’t used much yet, but is interesting. It’s a test that sets you in one of eight types: lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, true neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, or chaotic evil. This is another one that’s fairly easy for me to gauge myself, but I still go to the test to know for sure. (Not that tests are the be-all and end-all, but you know what I mean.)

As an example, I’ll use my character Livi Brooklyn and put her into each box.

HP: Prediction: Hufflepuff, through and through. Quiz reaction: Hufflepuff.

Faction: Prediction: Amity. Quiz reaction: Amity (Divergent, officially, but every answer is Divergent and Amity scored a lot higher than anything else.)

MBTI: Guess: ESFJ. Quiz answer: ENFP (I told you I’m not as good at predicting that one.) Ooh, and this slogan fits her perfectly: “What do you mean ‘life is boring’? Are we living on the same planet?”

Alignment: Guess: Chaotic good? Quiz answer: Lawful Good (with a lot of answers in neutral). Livi? Lawful? Huh.

I know that no one ever fits in one particular box, and characters shouldn’t be an exception, but if I know that she’s a Hufflepuff and Amity I know she’ll do anything for anyone. If I know that she’s an ENFP I know that she sees everything as fun (and if you search on Pinterest for “{insert MBTI type here}” it’ll pull up things that relate to that type. I have a character who’s board is currently dominated by these, if you’d like to see what I mean.) Looking over these gives me more of a feel for the character, too. Lawful Good tells me that she’s good (duh) and that she respects some authority, be that official authority or her own set of standards. These “boxes” all help me get to know the character better. (Fun fact: Livi’s first three are the same as my character Cordain’s, from The Heart of the Baenor, and the fourth might be too but I haven’t taken the test for him yet.) Boxes can be restricting, but when used properly they can actually have the opposite effect and help unleash the character.

Just for fun, here are the “boxes” I belong in. ;)

HP: Ravenclaw (tests have given me Ravenclaw and Gryffindor multiple times each.)

Faction: Divergent (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, and Erudite are all really close in the results.)

MBTI: INFP (This one has actually been steadily the same.)

Alignment: Lawful Neutral (a lot of mixed answers. I seem to truly be Divergent. ;))

How do you feel about “boxes” for character development? What HP house/Faction/MBTI type are you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. :)

Subscribe to my newsletter for a free list of character voice questions!

3 thoughts on “The “Boxes” I Put My Characters In

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *