Several conversations in writers groups, other authors, and here in Seekerville started me on a journey a few weeks ago. One author asked a group of us if we were analytical, and if we had trouble expressing thoughts, feelings, and emotion in general and in our novels. That really stuck with me, and I pondered it for about a week before emailing her and engaging in dialogue.
Here was my response, “I would have to say yes, although I'm much more open about sharing now than I used to be. Many years ago, a well-known author critiqued one of my stories and said I was ‘almost there’, but that she had the sense I was holding back. I've always contributed that ‘holding back’ to the fact that I'm very reserved, holding my personal feelings, emotions, and thoughts to myself. I've never thought that it was also because I'm analytical.”
A few weeks later, another author made a similar observation on a writers' loop. On a whim, I emailed her and asked her if she would consider herself an analytical thinker, and she gave me a resounding yes. Hmmm, could analytical types have a hard time expressing emotions on the page? It was worth digging into just a bit more.
Now, while I was pondering all of this, another light-bulb moment occurred. Missy Tippens had a great post in Seekerville titled 3 Tips for Hooking Readers where she discussed hooks, emotions, and connecting with readers. But of course, we, as authors have to connect with our characters first, who in turn connect with our readers.
Are you ready for the grand finale? In true Mentalist fashion, it all came about from one sentence in the comments section of Missy’s post...
“Readers are drawn to heroines that reflect themselves a lot of the time.” Ruth Logan Herne, "The Chief" on the Personality Test. Just sayin'
Immediately, the analytical part of me started to wonder what the most common personality trait of women, who are our primary readers, would be. And there’s nothing like a personality test and Mr. Google to help me find the answer to that burning question. A hop, skip, and a jump across the internet and I found what I was looking for. The My Personality website. What a perfect place to go a little mental!
Note: Several of you participated in a personality test to help with this blog post. Thank you!! For those who missed the test and would like to take it, go to the My Personality website and take the Basic Personality test. But come straight back to Seekerville, because there’s more…
So, now that everyone has taken the test and has their 4 letter personality type in hand, let’s get down to the meat of this blog post.
Are you ready?
Today's post is not about what we are at all...
...it's about what we are not.
Of the respondents who took the personality test, 94% did not fall into one of the two most common personality types for women. As you can see from the personality chart above, the two most common personality types for women are ESFJ “The Suppporter” at 17% and ESFP “The Entertainer” at 14%.
That’s a whopping 31% of all women.
94% of authors who took this personality test are not ESFJ or ESFP. That means that 94% of the authors responding don't have the same personality traits as the majority of women.
The good news is that I’ve read books by almost all of the authors who responded to my survey, and they have no trouble writing heroines with personalities sprinkled all across the personality map, so most of us don't need to do a thing. This isn’t to make anyone think they need to change the way they write at all, but is just another tool to add to our tool kits if someone struggles with this.
Now, what to do about this conundrum?
One way to write outside of our personality zone is to think of people whose personalities are similar to the top two most popular categories, or watch movies with those characters. Study those personality traits on the My Personality site, and practice writing an ESFJ or an ESFP character.
"For the ESFP, the entire world is a stage. They love to be the center of attention and perform for people. They're constantly putting on a show for others to entertain them and make them happy. They enjoy stimulating other people's senses, and are extremely good at it. They would love nothing more than for life to be a continual party, in which they play the role of the fun-loving host."
The above description does not fit me at all, but I know people like this (Captain Jack comes to mind! lol). I can write about them. I can study them in movies, and learn how better to portray them on the page.
Time has gotten away from me, and I would love to delve deeper into this topic. Many of you also sent me your three strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and I wish I could have incorporated that into this post. There just wasn’t time or room to discuss it all.
We'll talk more in the comments about the different personality traits and how we can use them ... not to label or change ourselves ... but as a tool to help us write characters readers relate to on a more personal level.
Today's giveaway is a copy (print or eBook) of Brandilyn Collins'
Please specify in the comments if you would like to be in the drawing.
~ ~ ~
In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Fredrick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.
Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in
and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In
those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning
and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her
if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay
doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making
up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream
Mariah is her second novel. www.pamhillman.com Mississippi