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Myers-Briggs and the Art of Fiction

Hannah badgered me into taking a non-official Myers-Briggs test last week. She unleashed a full-sized MBTI Mother Grindel with a gleam in her eye when she spotted an untested acquaintance. Test! Test everyone! Disagree with the test! Read all 16 descriptions! Choose the one that fits! Rewrite the descriptions! Can dogs be tested? NATIONAL MYERS BRIGS TESTING REQUIRED… et cetera.

During the midst of my own raging MBTI epidemic, the original contaminant discovered the MBTI of our two favorite fictional husbands.  Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy was an INTJ, one of the natural pairs for Hannah and I as INFJs; the ENTP Lord Peter Wimsey, our other object of affection, was another suggested partner type.

First, a fangirl moment: how awesome is it to Myers-Briggs fictional characters?

Second: it’s fate.

Third: Isn’t the power of artificially constructed paradigms fascinating?

I wouldn’t term the Myers-Briggs test (and its less official variations) a work of art, but it is a work of artifice. And I can’t help but note the similarities between what I do with the test, as a member of a test-taking species, and what I do as a writer of fiction.

As a fiction writer, I am obsessed with people. I try to understand them by inventing small personalities and playing on paper, pressing and tempting and exposing them. I experiment with patterns and am puzzled by what I find. It’s a strange experience to create a character and then to find part of that character unbelievable or out of line with the rest of her personality. What do you mean, out of line? Aren’t I the one in charge?

Of course not. I am the Michael Scott of my creative brain. I write from the Great Well of Human Experience and that particular well has a set of rules. There’s a curious logic about how people behave. As a writer of fiction, I try to articulate the patterns of how people behave in fictitious circumstances. The Myers-Briggs test, and others like it, articulates the patterns of how people behave in realistic circumstances. Myers-Briggs results are meant to help people understand the way in which they interact with the world. So is my fiction.

So I am more or less an impersonal career development personality test. That’s a boost to the ego. – Gabrielle

On a more pleasant note

We will be commencing our first Gaudy Twitter debate: Darcy v. Wimsey. Who is the hotter hottie? Or rather, who is the more attractive, intellectually gifted, emotionally vulnerable, wonderfully wonderful fictitious man? Heterosexual men are invited to take part in this debate alongside other interested parties.

Look for #AGentlemansWar on @TheGaudyTweets and our individual Twitter accounts, @HMTownsend and @agaudygabrielle; and join in! The best tweets will be posted to the blog as we go along.

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2012 by .

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