Thursday, December 23, 2010

Who are you?

What type are you?

As a writer I’m always trying to learn more about characterization. I have this annoying tendency to develop story people who are eerily similar to me even though I try to keep myself out of my characters.

I don’t use any of my own experiences, or my personal likes or dislikes—at least not intentionally—because I’m writing about people of my imagination, not myself. But somehow my heroines often react the same way I would in most situations. Of course their responses seem perfectly normal to me. And that might be okay if these ladies are an introvert.

But many of my people are extroverts with bigger, more dramatic personalities than mine. Readers seem to love bold, vibrant characters. Their reactions are inconsistent with their personalities if they respond as I would. I’m more flight, than fight. My tongue is sharper than my sword. (And I do own a sword—my father’s from his Navy days in World War Two.)

So I have to watch that my characterizations don’t reflect my own quiet (I refuse to say mousy) personality. In the book Life Types by Sandra Hirsh and Jean Kummenrow I recently discovered more about the Briggs-Meyers types and how the sixteen different styles related to my story people. For example, I learned that Introversion and Extroversion preferences have to do with how people are energized.

Introverts have an internal focus and get energy from inside themselves—their ideas, emotions and impressions. They like to keep their thoughts to themselves, think and reflect.

Extroverts find stimulation outside of themselves. They talk about what is on their minds and love to interact with other people.

Just from understanding these few bits of information you can figure out how the two different personality types will probably react. Would an introvert or extrovert enjoy a loud, New Years Eve party? Who’d love a weekend of silence at a secluded cabin? Their work styles, relationship styles and preferences will be based upon how they get their energy. Two extroverts (hero and heroine) will be very different from two introverts. Or one of each. I can see lots of conflict and plot complications developing!

One group predominates. Which group do you think that is? I’ll tell you later. Whoever guesses correctly will be entered into a drawing for my second book in the Ladies of Summerhill series called Love on Assignment. It’ll be released January 11th, but I’ll get my author copies soon so I can send one out to the winner. Just remember to add your e-mail address.

I hope all of you have a very Merry and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!


  1. Fun post! It's so interesting to think about characters' different personality types. :)

    As far as which one is more predominant, I'm not sure! I want to guess the we'll see! I count myself among their ranks. ;)

    Have a wonderful Christmas!



    P.S. My mom made another batch of her AMAZING chocolate fudge today, so help yourself! It is out-of-this-world delicious!!!

  2. I'm going to guess introverts as well.

    If I'm wrong, pretend I said extroverts =D.

    Either way, I tend to be introverted in person and extroverted online. Is that weird? In a sense, I can create a new persona online than I can in person. I *can* come across as fun loving and outgoing and gregarious in emails in a way I can't in person [in part because I find it annoying if someone else takes that too far].

    I wonder why that is? Fear of rejection is less online than in person? I can cease all communication more easily online?

    Hmm... something for me to ponder...

    Taking the kids to see Santa in the morning and then final Christmas stuff. Check out the title of the book we found for my FIL:

    Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels

    He has a love/hate relationship with squirrels. They love his birdfeeder and he hates them... But isn't that a fun title? Lots of fun multisyllabic words =D.

    Love to be entered... if I got it right...

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  3. I;m guessing the introverts predominate.

    I have this problem a lot in my writing. I often sonder if my characters don't have too many of my actions (which would make for a strange book, given how odd my wife says I am).

    Posting early as I've just returned from Toys-R-Us to pick up a scooter. Prices got marked down at midnight.

  4. I think introverts outnumber extroverts. I'm one of the former who has rare moments when I can be mistaken for the latter. The majority of my characters tend to be far more outgoing and confident than I am and lead far more exciting lives than I do. Maybe that's why I enjoy spending so much time with them. =)

  5. Ah, looks like coffee is still needed. So the pot's brewing.

    Have no idea which is predominant, so I guess I'll join some others and make a stab at introverts. (Sounds criminal, doesn't it?)

    Oh, boy, did you nail me. I really have to watch, or I project my cowardly characteristics into my imaginary people.

    Unlike you, Cara, I do use personal experiences in my writing. Incidents that I found funny, informative, tragic, etc. (Of course, thoroughly disguised) I believe that adage about truth being better than fiction.


  6. I would say the extroverts are the more dominate they seem to be louder but are also often insecure from my dealing with them but Im an introvert and I dont dominate.
    So Im going with extrovert
    would love to enter
    ausjenny at gmail dot com

  7. Oh you said predominate not donminate what does predominate mean?

  8. Seems as though there's a flurry of pre-Christmas activity still (or panic?)!

    Thx for fudge & coffee. Yummm!

    I'll also go with introverts, since there is time to plot and plan the strategy, and time to disguise oneself if need be.

    Interesting post, Cara!

    Merry Christmas all!!

    We are making a day trip to see a brilliant friend of Dad's, who lives in SC. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago but is still lucid enough to remember Dad especially.

  9. Loving the fudge, Amber!

    Cara, I love how you mentioned the opposing types of personalities being shown in how they think, what they do. Like you, I tend to snark first, ask questions afterwards...

    Like: Would Sarah Slocum REALLY tell Craig to buzz off?

    Not in those words because her Native American heritages says THINK FIRST....

    As we all know, I don't exactly embrace the think first, then act scenario so writing Sarah that way meant thinking of how she would think, act, react. But I often write it the way it comes naturally first, then go back and examine it to soften those Ruthy-moments.

    I'd guess introverts prevail, unless you're talking a Connealy heroine. Then it's extrovert all the way, a self-therapy tool, no doubt.


    I need eggnog today, so I brought it to share. Helen, thanks for the coffee! Delightful, as always!

  10. Eggnog, coffee, fudge--a good way to start the morning! My husband is getting my coffee right now. Retirement is such a wonderful time of life!

    Carol, I think a lot of us introverts are more extroverted on line. We can be heard in print--in 'real' life we can be drowned out by louder voices.

  11. Hi Cara!

    Interesting's hard to keep ourselves out of our writing.

    I'm guessing introverts are more predominant.

    Merry Christmas.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  12. Outwitting Squirrels: 101 -- I love it, CarolM! Now there's a unique gift.

    Pass the eggnog, fudge and coffee. What Weight Watchers doesn't know won't hurt them...

    Spending a quiet weekend at a cabin sounds soooooo good, Cara. LOL! Can you guess which personality type I am??

    You're not along in creating characters with your own traits. I struggle not to create H/H who react to things as I do.


    Instead, when my character comes to situation they automatically want to run from (my middle name is *flight*), I have to pause and think...

    What would Mary do?

    What would Janet do?

    What would Julie do?

    And heaven forbid...What would Ruthy do????

    Audra is boring. My Seeker buds are not.

    Shoot 'em up; take chances; lots of kissing; get 'em dirty...

    These are the elements this little introvert brain needs to keep in mind when writing characters people what to identify with on a fictional level.

    Great post, Cara. You made me think. Makes for a great start to my day, LOL!!

    Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

  13. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraDecember 23, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    Very interesting. I would say that introverts are more predominate. However I think I am a little bit of both. I hope everyone has a Blessed & Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!


  14. I have this feeling it's the introverts as well. Or maybe I just can't understand how social interaction could be anything but exhausting.

    I admitted this last week the day I blogged in Seekerville. I had a holiday party at work and I was totally wiped out when I came home.
    What concerns me is that this continues to become worse as I get older.
    Cara, have you read the book PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME? It's very helpful in using the Briggs Meyers. I certainly need 'help' when it comes to writing an extraverted character!

    Have a wonderful LONG weekend. Merry Christmas!

  15. By predominates, do you mean is more common? Or is more dominant? Sorry, I'm still sick so my mind is moving slow.

    I would say extroverts but I really don't know.

    Merry Christmas, Cara! Can you believe we're supposed to have snow here in N Alabama on Christmas day?

  16. I think a lot of heroines are like Ruthy--very extroverted! What do you say, Ruthy? Could I model a heroine after you??? BTW, I used to know a girl named Sarah Slocum.

    I've noticed at writers' conferences dozens of introverts suddenly blossom into extraverts. It must be all that pent up energy and delight at meeting so many others like us!

  17. Oh, man, I LOVE talking "characters" ... uh, maybe because as my mom used to say, I am one!! And unlike Cara, I DO tend to infuse a lot of myself and my life situations into my books, I guess because as a "character" myself, I'm just crazy enough to keep the story interesting ...

    As far as reality and my actual life, my favorite people are the introverts -- quieter, shyer, less explosive types that can actually tolerate me.

    BUT ... when it comes to writing or reading about characters, I have to admit that I'm a goner for the extroverts and definitely the most outrageous ones -- quirky, humorous, in your face and carrying LOTS of baggage!! :) Mmm ... wonder why?

    For instance, in my Daughters of Boston series, the characters who were the most difficult for me to write were the introverts -- Lizzie, Emma and Brady because all three are quiet, serene and mostly wise -- something I'm definitely not.

    Which explains why Charity is my all-time favorite character, both to write and read about because she is SUCH a hoot, so out of the ordinary, that she makes me laugh every single time she's in a scene. Loud, pushy, opinionated, quirky, funny, needy and a propensity to love as deeply as she hates. And let's face it, people like that need the most love ... and chapter space!! :)

    So I'd say the extroverts predominate, but I just bet you're gonna tell us otherwise, aren't you, Cara???

    In actuality, you'll probably tell us the introverts predominate -- especially in things like leadership, intelligence and stability, which would be a very good thing. But let's face it -- it's those crazy, over-the-top extroverts that make the world more fun ... and dangerous!! :)

    GREAT POST, Cara!!


  18. Cara--the Myers-Briggs stuff is so fascinating. And like you said, extrovert & introvert in that system dervive from where energy is derived from. I think it's sometimes hard for those of us who are peacemakers to throw our characters out into conflict or confrontation.

    Either way, I tend to be introverted in person and extroverted online. Is that weird?

    Come again???? You, Carol M ... introvert???? Yeah, and I'm the shy, unassuming wallflower type too!!

    But seriously, I do understand that statement (which is scary!) because I believe one can be two different personnas at the same time. I like to joke that I am a recluse with the misfortune of having an outgoing personality, and recluses tend to be introverts at heart, I think. Or wanna-be introverts, anyway. So, no, I don't find that "weird" ... but that could be because I'm weird, I suppose ... :/

    And, HELEN ... I'm with you! To me, truth IS a lot better than fiction, at least the "truth" that litters my past is because drama is fun to read about, and honey, it sounds like you and I have drama with a capital D!!

    AUDRA SAID: Shoot 'em up; take chances; lots of kissing; get 'em dirty...

    OH, YEAH!!! And that's just Mary's life alone ... :)


  20. Julie is definitely another extravert! No doubt about it. My editors like me to write about extraverts because they're so out there interacting with the world and other characters--and clashing. Introverts have a lot of their action and conflict in their heads. That doesn't seem to play as well in fiction and certainly not in the movies! But we're just as interesting. Sometimes it's not so obvious.

  21. Cara, you make an excellent point about characterization. I like my heroines to face conflict and go toe-to-toe with the hero. They must all be extroverts. Or the strength of their feelings brings out that facet of their personality. But I'm guessing more people are introverts.

    We're in full Christmas celebration mode here. The grandsons are shooting baskets downstairs. Off to show them a thing or two. Like how bad I am at hoops. LOL

    Merry Christmas!

  22. Melanie, I envy you you're snow. Pensacola doesn't look at all like Christmas.

  23. Carol, have you ever heard Brad Paisley's country song "I'm so much cooler online."?

    Google the Youtube video.

    Too funny.

    And...uh...way too much truth in it too!

  24. Something to think about! Introvert or Extrovert...I'll need to read that book, I'm sure I'll learn lots:) I think I'm a little of both with some extrovert tendencies!
    I think your question was 'which group do you think predominates?' Predominate 'strongest or main element; exert control or power.' I'm not sure but I think it would be extroverts...but I could be wrong:(

    Count me in on your new book giveaway...loved your first the way:) I love historical romance!

    Merry Christmas,


  25. More introverts in real life.

    More extroverts in fiction.

    More introverts in real life now (vs pre-TV, computer, cell phone) that communication is so easily from the comfort of our own homes.

    In the past everyone socialized at church socials or village festivals, so even the introverted had a chance to come out of their shell a bit.

    Now, as introverts, we can pretty much stay that way, and just surf the net.

    HOWEVER, sometimes a job can push us out of our introverted nature. I'm a purchasing manager in my day job. I have to talk to people from all over the world on the phone and in person. I prefer sitting in my office crunching numbers and figuring how much stuff I need to order, but I can yuk it up with the salesman that shows up for an appointment. It's a learned skill that I dreaded, but I'm glad I had to do it. It helps now that I'm talking to industry professionals in the writing world, and as part of ACFW's conference staff.

    I wonder how what a hard-core extrovert could learn from a job that put him/her in a quiet, reflective environment?

    Like a librarian?


  26. Okay, I THINK it's introverts, but I'm gonna guess extroverts since fewer people guessed that, and if it IS right, I'll have a better chance of winning (how's that for backwards logic). joanne(at)joannesher(dot)com

    I'm definitely an extrovert both on and offline. And I DEFINITELY need to keep this stuff in mind for when I craft characters.

  27. I think a lot of people are more outspoken online than in person. One forum I'm on has some pretty vicious 'fights' and I know some most likely wouldn't say the things they say if they were facing everyone in person(well a few would I'm sure!) I'm more extroverted in smaller groups or with people I know but overall I'm more of a loner. I'm not sure how much of that is 'natural' for me and how much was just conditioned through childhood/teen years - quiet seemed to be a valued thing with the girls.

    mmm fudge! is the eggnog spiked? oops guess not since it's still morning *blush*.

    today my mom has her biopsy so kinda nervous still..maybe I should spike my eggnog just a teeny bit for medicinal purposes...


  28. *** Philosophy Alert ***

    Hi Cara:

    Not only do I put a lot of myself into my characters, I put a lot of myself in interpreting real people. As the Eastern mystics say: “We see what is behind our eyes.” (In romantic terms: “You can’t really love another until you learn to love yourself.)

    As for your question: It has to be ‘introverts’ because common sense would tell you it is the ‘extroverts’. You know ‘common sense’: it’s that faculty that tells us the world is flat.

    But think about it: extroverts are dependent on other people’s acceptance. That makes them less dominate as they need the approval of others more than the self-sufficient introvert.

    But here is the rub: some introverts and extroverts may have little problem acting in their opposite roles. I’m an introvert philosopher but I have no problem being an extrovert. I love teaching, giving speeches to hundreds of people, and being a club officer -- but none of this is a natural inclination. A truly reflective introvert who can act easily as an extrovert is probably pretty dangerous.

    Types of Dogs:

    I think the human personality can be divided into an infinite number of category sets. I like the set we use for K-9 dogs. These dogs had six personality types which we had to know in order to successfully train them.

    Under Aggressive
    Over Aggressive

    Under Sensitive
    Over Sensitive

    My first dog was ‘Over Aggressive’ and ‘Under Sensitive’. Very hard to train. He didn’t care much if you praised him or not. He wanted you to be worried about his approval.

    My second dog was ‘Aggressive’ and ‘Over Sensitive’. Easy to train because he worked so hard to win a little praise. He needed a lot of praise.

    I think this system works pretty well with humans as well. Think about it.

    Of course, there is that most basic human type: those who characterize human personalities and those who don’t. : )


    P.S. I'd like to win your new book. I think the type is big enough for me to read in your editions.
    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  29. Hi Cara,

    You sure hit the nail on the head with this post. I am a tried-and-true introvert and my characters end up sounding like me. Good point! Need to 'bolden' them up.

    I hate big crowds of people (so conferences scare me to death). Being around people totally drains me of energy until I'm like a wet noodle.

    Time alone re-charges my batteries!

    The majority of people I know are introverts so I would say they predominate! BTW - my husband is a TOTAL extrovert! He hates staying home - goes out every night if possible to coach sports, etc. People energize him. When he's home, he ends up napping on the couch! It's amazing we're still married! LOL.

    I'd love to win your book!

    Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  30. Hi Amber:

    P.S. My mom made another batch of her AMAZING chocolate fudge today, so help yourself! It is out-of-this-world delicious!!!

    Virtual or not: don’t you think this is cruel to write?

    Fudgeless in Tulsa!


  31. Vince, my husband equated raising children to training dogs. He always said the dog has to understand what you want from them, same way with children. Don't muddy the waters with superfluous commentary. Short and succinct, that's what they need.

    He was right, though it didn't come second nature to a writer with a mind full of words, LOL!

    I had to draw the line when he wanted to apply the single syllable rule to naming our children...

  32. My answer completely depends on which definition of predominate Cara is talking about. If she is using the definition of greater in number, I'll say introverts. If exerting power or control, I'll say extroverts. I would think that most people are fairly introverted, although extroverted characters are certainly more fun to read!


  33. This is only a guess but I'd say it's exroverts that predominate. I'm a combination of both, but don't mind spending a huge amount of time alone either. My story characters are outgoing and more interesting than me. Put me in for the drawing for your latest book, Cara. I enjoyed reading "Love on a Dime." Blessed Christmas to all.

  34. I hope I my question was clear, but maybe it wasn't. The question is: Are there more introverts or extraverts in the world?

  35. Intriguing question. At first you would think extroverts, but I think a lot of people are right in that it's introverts. I think those who act like extroverts are insecure in some ways. I can't wait to read your new novel. I loved the first one.
    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  36. Hi Cara:

    Oh! If you just want the percentage of extroverts to introverts, based on years of teaching, I’d say it is just about 10 introverts to 1 extrovert. I only taught adults but I think this is probably the same with children. Do any classroom teachers out there want to comment?


  37. I took a myers-briggs test with my husband-to-be a zillion years ago and we came out EXACTLY them same EXCEPT he came out as an introvert and I came out as an extrovert.

    Now, to me, this is exactly the opposite of true. My husband can talk to anyone about anything, any time.

    Me, I tend to zone out, daydream, outline books, miss whole chunks of conversation and not have that much to add.

    I was painfully shy as a child.

    So I told the minister who gave us that test I thought that was wrong and he said I was defining extrovert and introvert incorrectly.
    It's not about being talkative, it's about being open. Revealing yourself.
    So a man (or woman) might talk easily and at length about sports or motors and work without allowing anyone to know him better. That makes him an introvert, no matter how chatty.
    And I might not talk easily on any topic, but a person would come away from a talk with me knowing how I felt, what I believed, knowing ME better.

    Makes a little sense I guess. But I still think the test is stupid.

    I swear half the questions were:
    Pick which you'd prefer.
    1) Having your fingers slammed in a window.

    2)Having a rat bite you in the face


    Pick which you'd prefer.
    1) Walking in a meadow, and stepping on a hill of fire ants.

    2) Riding in city traffic and ending up carsick and barfing right into your Coach purse.

    sigh, so hard to choose.

  38. Audra, my characters would probably shoot someone. It's a simple philosophy and surprisingly effective. It works in nearly all situations.

    Ho ho ho

  39. I misspoke in the third paragraph from the end.

    It should read, Two extroverts (hero and heroine) will be very different from two introverts. Sorry about that!

  40. Vince,

    Sorry about the cruelty! :( Hope you can have some sort of Christmas sweet soon! Is it even possible to be fudgeless at Christmastime? ;)


  41. Mary - you are hilarious :). Shoot someone. LOVE IT!

    Sounds about right to me =D.

    Kids have seen Santa [near the first in line for the best Santa in town - nearly always an hours long wait but sis got there 1:15 before they opened and got us in line] - all smiles, no crying. Even the 3yo ran to him :).

    Found a really cool frame for DH and am going to put a bunch of our pics that we had done in it. Sis is still out shopping with two of my kids and is going to pick them up. I think I'm completely done shopping now though I do need to do some assembly type stuff on a homemade present.

    Now if the UPS guy will get here before we need to leave tomorrow with the Squirrel book, it'll be all good :).

    Merry Christmas!

  42. Oh thanks for clearing that up Cara Lynn can I change to introverts. I ended up looking up the definition and was still confused.
    I think there are more introverts in the world.

  43. Hi Cara, Interesting post. Hadn't thought about the aspect of where introverts and extroverts get their energy. Most of our friends are extroverts so I would guess extroverts.

    DH is definitely an extrovert. I think I'm on the fence. At times I'm an intro and other an extro. Is that possible??

  44. Hi Audra:

    I think your husband is right. Use one syllable commands, use a command voice and give only one command before taking corrective action.

    One thing I learned from teaching people to teach dogs in the military is this: about 99% of the time the problem is the human and not the dog. It’s all in how you go about teaching the particular command. You can make it easy for the dog to learn or you can make it almost impossible.


    P.S. From the Drudge Report: "Forecasters: Colorado faces most dangerous avalanche conditions in state history..."
    Extroverts need to keep quiet near the slopes!

  45. The answer to my question:

    According to the book Life Types about 70% of the population are extraverts and about 30% are introverts.

    The winner of Love on Assignment is Melanie Dickerson! Congratulations!!!

  46. Really? More extroverts than introverts? I would never have guessed...


    My word veri is latrats.. What's a lat rat, anyway???

  47. Well Cara

    I have to tell you the questions seems a little riddled to me. Base on what I think your asking I would have to say the dynamic of one introvert and one extrovert couple is the predominant grouping in most books.



  48. I have this problem, also, of writing too much of myself into characters that are supposed to be different. For the screenplay I'm working on now, I've gone back to the Keirsey Temperament Descriptions (of the M-B profiles). [] Keirsey has one or two word labels that help a lot. So for my screenplay, DANDELION WISHES (a "remarriage" pro-life romance) my main characters are: an Artisan Performer (protagonist), a Rational Fieldmarshal (antagonist), Idealist Teacher (co-antagonist), Rational Inventor (the antagonist's wrench), Artisan Composer (co-protagonist), Artisan Promoter (the protagonist's wrench), a Guardian Protector, and a Guardian Inspector. There are 5 extroverts, and 3 introverts. I agree with several of you that dramatic characters are more likely to be extrovert. The introverts make their drama present more by covert action, or are drawn into the story by the extroverts. After writing the story treatment out a couple times, it's easy to then figure out how the different characters then talk and act by reading Keirsey's longer descriptions and then writing very story descriptions of the character's talking and acting habits.

  49. A thought provoking post,thanks- I feel at some times I am an extrovert, but then I have moods of quietness and enjoying down time.I guess it is reflecting time. I remember Angie saying to make your character do something out of character.... sign me up for your new release, how

  50. Interesting post about how our own personalities sneak into our characters. However, I think I do the opposite. I am an introvert, and my main characters seem to be extroverts, doing or saying things I'd never do or say.

    Anyway, my vote is for the introvert.