It's a Writer Thing


Posts tagged with "character development"


Crafting a Strong Character Voice || Part 5

Exercise 1 –
Take the above photo. Describe it with your own style and your own literary flair. Bring the scene to life. Give it its own characterization. Capture a moment.

Exercise 2 –
Now, describe the scene from the eyes of one of your characters. Don’t be afraid to borrow those moments of gold you write in exercise 1, but make sure to stay absolutely true and honest to the voice of the character.

Bonus –
Describe the scene from the eyes of the protagonist.

Goal –
A big part of what makes a story stand out is character voice. Your own personal style changes as you do, and a character’s voice changes as the character does. When the two come together, there’s potential for literary magic, but bringing out and differentiating between different character voices takes lots of practice and even more reading.

Write for yourself, but also take time to write with the intention of improving skills. There’s reading for pleasure, and then there’s reading like a writer. The same applies to writing: write for pleasure, then write to improve. Experiment in these exercises. Try things you haven’t tried before.

Remember, the image is meant to generate ideas, so it’s intentionally vague. If you’re not used to writing about the subjects in the image, good. Write something you’ve never written before. Push yourself.

Need some help? Check out the guide on character voice, or look at the Voice & Style Summer Camp exercises for additional tips!

Share your pieces, however perfect or raw, with other KSWers by posting under the “ksw exercise” tag!

Need an Example? Here’s a Poor One –

Read More

Story, Character and Contradiction



Human beings are full of contradictions. We want what we don’t have. We get tired of what we struggled to get. We say one thing but do another.

It’s not just people who behave this way, throughout the universe things are happening that aren’t supposed to be happening. We think we know how something works and then it does something completely different.

We like patterns, we like working out the rules and being able to predict events. But there’s always an exception to the rule. An anomaly will arise. The unexpected will turn up with alarming regularity. And when this happens our reaction is to take a closer look. We are fascinated by contradiction and want to examine it for answers, even when there are none to be had.

This urge is powerful and is just as strong in the fictional world as it is in the real one.

Read More


How To:

Write/play a character who is a rebel.
As a celebration for 300 followers, I’ve decided to write some guides on some of the most commonly misplayed characters on Tumblr - here’s one of them. We’ll be focusing on rebels. In this guide, you will see what the stereotypes of a rebel are, debunking the facts and myths of these stereotypes, some suggested personality traits that a rebel may have, some suggested backgrounds that will tell why they have taken to the “rebel” lifestyle, some FCs who have a “rebel” type look, and lastly, a playlist for characters who are rebels. Enjoy!
Note: I am in no way saying this is an end-all, beat-all guide on how to play rebel characters. I have simply done research and drawn upon my own experiences with rebels. If you feel you have a different interpretation on how a rebel would act, feel free to use that interpretation instead! If you have any suggestions or tips on how to improve this guide, shoot me an ask and I’ll do it right away!

Read More


How To:

Write/play a character who is a rebel.

As a celebration for 300 followers, I’ve decided to write some guides on some of the most commonly misplayed characters on Tumblr - here’s one of them. We’ll be focusing on rebels. In this guide, you will see what the stereotypes of a rebel are, debunking the facts and myths of these stereotypes, some suggested personality traits that a rebel may have, some suggested backgrounds that will tell why they have taken to the “rebel” lifestyle, some FCs who have a “rebel” type look, and lastly, a playlist for characters who are rebels. Enjoy!

Note: I am in no way saying this is an end-all, beat-all guide on how to play rebel characters. I have simply done research and drawn upon my own experiences with rebels. If you feel you have a different interpretation on how a rebel would act, feel free to use that interpretation instead! If you have any suggestions or tips on how to improve this guide, shoot me an ask and I’ll do it right away!

Read More

how do you write a brutally honest character? Or write a situation where you might be able to show this side of their personality?



There are two types of honest people. There are honest people who tell it like it is, whether their comment is welcome or not, and there are honest people who stay true to their word and who don’t lie, cheat, or sneak around. Both types can share traits:

  • Rude: Sometimes, an honest person can be rude when they point out truths. They may or may not realize that they are being rude. If they realize it, they might not care. If they do realize it, they might be reluctant to point it out or they might apologize for doing so. This is a flaw of being honest. It can cause conflict with other characters or it can reveal information that other characters wanted to keep quiet. Other times, people are honest because they like being rude.
  • Playing Fair: Honest people who “play by the rules” will reveal when a person is cheating (even themselves) because it’s part of their moral code. This can also be a flaw and it can result in an antagonist winning. They might have a chance to get out of a situation through stealing something that can help, but it goes against their moral code and therefore will result in internal conflict if they take it.
  • Outspoken: Some honest people will be outspoken or will seem outspoken if they’re the ones who stand up and give the truth that no one else wants to say.
  • Trustworthy: People who are honest can be trusted to tell the truth. This can be both a good and bad trait. They might give away someone’s secret if they feel it’s right to tell the truth about what happened.
  • Unbiased: Honest people have the ability to be more unbiased and objective than other people. They can look at both sides of a situation fairly.
  • Social Skills: The “tell it like it is” honest type can have trouble with social skills. They might not realize that some things are better left unsaid and therefore will turn others away through their honesty.

For some examples of these characters, look at the TV Tropes page.

There are tons of situations that you can show this and it should be present in more than just a few situations if it’s a major trait of a character. Showing their honesty can happen anywhere at any time, but it’s also dependent on your character and the story itself.

Hiya! I play a blind character in an rp, and really want to capture the essence of how he feels about it (blind since birth) Do you have any reccomendations or perhaps a link or two?



Build them up as a character first. What’s their personality? Temperament? Likes and dislikes? Talents? How do they handle stress? Do they get discouraged easily? Are they outgoing? Establish their relationships with others, too. Do they have a lot of friends? Do they get a lot of support? You need all this (i.e. a developed character) to establish how they would feel about blindness. And now some links:

On tumblr

Outside tumblr

Hope that helped!

Do you have any tips for writing power hungry characters? (Btw, I love the blog! :) )



This is all I have so far…

General Traits

This list doesn’t mean your character should have every single one of the traits on it, but they’re strong ones to consider. Pick and choose the ones that fit your character best from these:

  • ambitious
  • manipulative
  • dedicated
  • ruthless
  • intelligent
  • dishonest
  • calculating
  • decisive
  • immoral
  • controlling
  • pragmatic
  • aggressive
  • disillusioned
  • inspiring

You may be able to think of more…! Either way, it’s important that you keep this character balanced. It’s too easy to attribute too many negative traits to power-hungry characters. So here’s how to round them out…

Question Time

The key things you want to know are:

  • Why does your character want power? How have their current circumstances influenced that desire? What do they stand to gain, and what do they stand to lose? This is where you can really get to understand your character. Ask them ‘why?’ until they can’t answer you any more. They should have a clear reason for striving towards their goal, after all.
  • What kind of power are they aiming for? Do they want to become the head of an important company, or are they looking more at ruling the country? The world? Think hard about the extent of the power they’re after. If they did ever achieve the top spot, what kind of things would they be capable of, or be allowed to do?
  • Who is in the way? To get power, you have to take power. So who is your character up against in their quest for more influence?
  • When did they become power hungry? In other words, what is the catalyst to their ambition? People don’t seek further power without a real reason; there are plenty of people in the world who are happy to accept where they are, and what they are allowed to do in that position. There is generally an awakening moment when the person thinks, ‘actually, I don’t want to live this way any more’ and so they seek a way to change their circumstances.
  • How do they gain power? What kind of behaviours are they willing to carry out in order to get their way? What obstacles do they have to clear? Think about their path to power and how it shapes them.

Basic Formula

The Catalyst

We’re not born with an inherent need to take over the country we live in, or to lead a business or beat the whole class in academic exams. Something makes us decide why we want those things. Your character needs a catalyst to their desire for power, too.

Either they’re pushed into it, they decide they want it or they are taught to strive for it.

The Path to Power

You need to think about when your character sets their plans in motion, and what kind of things they do as they climb up the ladder. Nobody goes from the very bottom to the very top overnight. Treat each rung like one major event in the timeline until you get to the end.

Gaining power requires a lot of groundwork. Some things to consider:

  • The friends they make;
  • The enemies they make;
  • How the one currently in the position of power views them (do they admire your character or distrust them? What kind of things might they do (either intentionally or unintentionally) to allow your character to creep closer to the top?);
  • What your character does to gain trust/likability;
  • What your character does to gain control/fear.

Evasive Maneuvers

Achieving power is one thing, holding onto power is another. What does your character do to protect their place? Who threatens their position? This is when your character becomes desperate to justify their actions, and when they may consider behaviour they previously thought immoral (or never considered before).

At this point, your character may be ruthless. What is the worst thing they are prepared to do in order to keep their power?

Support and Protest

Of course, other people keep this character in power in two ways:

  • Through support;
  • or through silence.

What happens to those who don’t keep silent? What kind of things do the supporters have to do to retain their power? Additionally, how much support is there, and how much protest? What kind of things do the protesters do to affirm their beliefs?

The Fall

Nothing stays the same forever. Either power is ripped from your character or they pass on the power to somebody else, beginning a whole new era. Think about what kind of end would suit your power-hungry character.

I think that’s about it…

History has some of the most fascinating and awful tales of people rising to power. Even if you’re not writing a character aiming for a throne or to rule a kingdom, country or world, understanding real people is a good step forward when it comes to basing characters on them.

I hope all of this is of some actual use, ha ha… ;;;;; (Btw, the blog loves you, too!)

- enlee

Apr 9


I made a slideshow about how to create a fictional character… I got most of the information from the ‘start writing fiction’ (free) course on the OpenUniversity website and found it incredibly useful so here’s a visual version for you :)

Apr 5

I'm writing a story about a girl who doesn't fit into her Era(she lives in the 20s) does something like that seem to used? The whole world is split up, into different time eras, like the 1800s 1900s ans the future etc. And the people live by that era


It’s too used if it’s without reason. If a person acts different than their environment dictates, then there needs to be a logical Cause leading to that Effect.

Were they raised to think differently? Has someone done something to make them resent the social norm? Is there someone who’s also acted differently, who inspired the character to follow their lead?

There needs to be a defining point that drives your character to do differently. People don’t just wake up one day and decide to spur the entirety of their surroundings.

So start asking your character questions. What’s the origin of this difference?

Write on!

Apr 5

Character Development: Psychosis


Anonymous asked: Writing a character who is slowly succumbing to psychosis? The novel is from her point of view and at first you can’t really tell, but as the chapters go on I want her to get worse, hallucinations, paranoia, self harm etc. However I don’t know how to portray this accurately because I don’t deal with psychosis (I do self harm, so I don’t need help on that part) Do you have any tips for writing a psychotic character?

Limyaael on LiveJournal wrote a really comprehensive guide on writing a psychotic character. There’s another great post at Worlds of Ink about writing a psychotic villain, but many of the tips apply to non-villains as well. The NHS web site has a helpful run down of what psychosis is, as well as a link to a five minute video of one patient’s own experience with psychosis. Here is a link to a TED talk about what it’s like to have a psychotic episode. Early Signs of Psychosis will give you some ideas about what she might experience near the beginning. This video simulates a psychotic episode in a patient with schizophrenia. Last but not least, this page has a lot of additional helpful information and links.

Apr 4

Character development versus pacing


I can totally relate to this, wow. Character development is so much fun that we pretty much let ourselves get carried away with it. But that’s cool, and let me tell you why.

Write freely. If you seriously enjoy writing out these characters and their relationship, you should seriously write it. Seriously. You write because you want to write, first and foremost. Write the story you want to tell, and don’t worry about what it’s supposed to read or look like to everyone else. Write the story you enjoy telling, even if that story is full of “filler” scenes.

Allowing yourself to write freely means you’re conquering those limitations that our inner critic likes to assert on us and our creative process. Listening to that inner critic all the time can be harmful, taxing, and make us fear putting even a single word down. This is when the volume of the inner critic has turned itself up to screaming – we can’t help but to listen until our ears bleed.

But having the inner critic in your head isn’t a bad thing, as long as the volume’s turned down to something that allows us to create without fear. It’s good to look at our work critically as long as it doesn’t interfere with us achieving our goal. As soon as that angry little voice stops us, we need to turn the volume down.

So, if you really enjoy writing character development, but you also really enjoy writing a fast-paced story, here are some things to keep in mind while you’re writing:

  • Exploring characters. Sometimes filling out endless character charts or face casting isn’t enough. Often what really gets us into the brains of our characters is actually writing them, and not just writing them outside the story, but within the context of the plot. Characters begin developing from the first page of the story, so those tidbits you might have written outside the story don’t show where your character is at the moment the story begins. Writing out the scenes that may be removed from the final product later is perfectly fine, as it only helped us explore that character further and portray them more accurately in the scenes that are kept.
  • Character arcs. In that same vein, remember that the character arc is just as important as the plot arc. The usual idea of “action”, such as fists flying or car chases, isn’t the only thing that drives pacing. Character arcs can also have rising action, inciting incidents, twists – all that same fun stuff. And also in that same vein –
  • Keep the plot in mind. When the plot develops, so do the characters. And when the characters develop, so does the plot. Think of how these development scenes bleed into each other, how you can tie what’s happening with the characters with what’s happening in the plot. Some of the best development happens when the plot happens to the characters, or the characters happen to the plot.
  • Thinking of pacing. How much of these development scenes are just idle chatter and playing around, and how much shows tension and active evolution? There’s a difference between characters sitting around discussing inconsequential life things, and characters sitting around discussing something that’s related to the plot, making those connections and unpacking details – even revealing how they feel about what’s going on, which is just as important as any action scene. Many things drive pacing aside from simply action, and oftentimes one of those many things can simply be a character with agency.
  • The first draft is the first draft for a reason. The first draft is throwing darts and hoping each one strikes the bull’s-eye. Well, that’s not how things work out. Some darts don’t even stick, especially if we’re working on our first novels and the process is still new. Some darts will bounce off. Some darts will strike measly points. Some darts’ll even strike the wall three feet away, or knock off other darts. It’s all a part of the process.
  • Perfection is the enemy. Writing is both trial and error. Don’t be afraid of the error.

Revise wisely. This means, of course, finding the best approaches to revising (as in, the approaches that work best for you). This also means it’s time to turn that critical voice up a notch, to focus those analytical eyes on what scenes are carrying their weight, versus what scenes aren’t.

When paring down a narrative, you never want to strip it bare. The plot isn’t the only critical element of a story, after all, and if you carve out all of that necessary in-between, what you end up with is just a skeleton with no soul. A plot, not a story.

But that doesn’t mean you should feel intimidated about doing any major renovations or overhauls. When considering how much of the character “filler” is too much, think about these things:

  • Eliminate scenes. Cut and paste them into a separate file so you don’t have to lose them entirely (“deleted scenes” are little fun things that you might use later). It might be that the events that took place in this scene still happened, even if the reader doesn’t get to see it. Sometimes a summary of what happened does the job in fewer words. Or, if there’s an event that takes place, or some sort of critical piece of information that’s revealed, but it still doesn’t need an entire scene, you might consider –
  • Combine scenes. It might be beneficial to have multiple important things happen in one scene, as opposed to multiple scenes where only one thing happens. Be careful about this, however, because you don’t want to strain “convenient coincidence”, as in the characters discover they need to find this elusive thing that no one has ever found before, and—oh, look at that, they find it on the first try in the same scene.
  • Cut passages. This post, under “Transition”, briefly discusses what I mean. If there’s padding between scenes that feels superfluous or extraneous, or delaying the continuation of the story without reasonable cause, such as when characters have inner reflection, cut it or summarize it.
  • Trim dialogue. Sometimes characters get away from us and segue into conversations that they weren’t supposed to get into. Mom talking about dishes? Dishes not critical to the plot arc or character development arc? Cut it or summarize it.

In the end, you’ll get a better idea of what your story looks like after you’ve written it. Then (after you’ve stuffed the story out of sight for a while) you’ll get a much more accurate idea of what the story reads like, or what the story even is, and you can also have your writerly friends read and give you their own opinions.

So, in short, write all that stuff. During the writing process, it’s important. Once you hit the revising process, grab your axe.

Good luck!

Apr 4

Dario Nardi’s Neuroscience of Personality


Dario Nardi recently published a book called Neuroscience of Personality. It contains his insights based on putting a 20 sensor EEG on 60 college students of various types, and then having them perform various activities.

Since it includes both qualitative and quantitative research results, it’s probably not definitive proof of type or type dynamics. Still, I think his approach is interesting and his book helps shed light on how type relates to activity in the neocortex.

Neocortex Brain Regions and Skillsets:


Note that A1, A2, and FZ, CZ, PZ were not used. His use of EEG has a number of inherent limitations, including not being able to sense deeper regions of the brain (where a lot of fundamental physical and emotional processing happens). His summation of the regions of the neocortex was:

Fp1 “Chief Judge”

  • Provide a reason
  • Decide between options
  • Detect an error

Helps us decide quickly and quickly, and explain our reasoning. Helps us ignore unwanted, negative ideas and feedback.

Fp2 “Process Manager”

  • Notice where you are in a task
  • Perceive that you are done
  • Consider a new or unpleasant idea.

Broadly, tracks whether we are at the beginning, middle, or end of a task. Helps regulate our emotions while processing negative, depressing or disruptive data.

F7 “Imaginative Mimic”

  • Infer based on context
  • Imagine another place or time
  • Mirror others’ behavior
  • Ask “maybe” and “what if”
  • Mentally play out a situation.

Home of the “mirror neurons.” Works as a kind of mental holodeck, where we play out scenarios in an imaginative context. 

F8 “Grounded Believer”

  • Recall exact, literal details
  • Say a word or phrase with strong emphasis
  • Identity what we believe
  • Rate how much we like or dislike something
  • Ignore context.

Gets active when you say what’s important to you in life. Helps guide our speech and recall detail about the things we consider important. Ignores context, so provides cross-contextual beliefs and details.

(Side note: autistic people show low F7 and high F8)

F3 “Deductive Analyst”

  • Make logical deductions
  • Backtrack or correct your thinking due to a reasoning error
  • Follow a chain of reasoning

Gets active when we follow a branching logical structure or chain of reasoning towards a conclusion. Requires thinking in words or symbols. Most people who less activity here than in most regions.

F4 “Expert Classifier”

  • Categorize a person, place, thing, event or idea.
  • Have a sense for how well a concept fits a particular category.
  • Links two concepts together.

Gets active when we classify and define concepts. For example, is a dolphin a fish or mammal? Like F3, underutilized by most people. Requires domain expertise to build up accurate categories. 

T3 “Precise Speaker”

  • Speak words
  • Compose complex sentences
  • Attend to proper grammar and word usages.
  • Listen to other people’s words.

This region handles words, both yours and those spoken by others. It’s also used when performing tasks we’ve learned to do by speaking. If you talk to yourself while doing thinking (solving math problems, etc), you are likely using this region.

Some people don’t use this region much, but instead may think in symbols, pictures, etc. 

T4 “Intuitive Listener”

  • Notice someone’s tone of voice
  • Hear when something “resonates” or “speaks to you personally
  • Feel someone is speaking in a phony or false way bu cannot say why.
  • Speak with powerful affect.

This region handles tone of voice and other affective qualities of sound and voice. Also home to irritation and hostility.

C3 “Factual Storekeeper”

  • Remember a fact.
  • Retrieve a memory that contains specific information such as date or time.
  • Recall a sequence of action steps.
  • Prepare to move your body’s right side
  • Skillfully draw charts, tables, and diagrams
  • Attend to sensations on the right side of your body.

This region handles sensations and motor movement of the body’s right side. Neurons in this regions are laid out in a way that mimics actual body layout. Activates when recalling factual “textbook” knowledge. Briefly activates when a chunk of memory is retrieved.

C4 “Flowing Artist”

  • Remember of beautiful place.
  • Retrieve a memory based on aesthetic qualities.
  • Recall whole-body affect.
  • Prepare to move your body’s left side.
  • Skillfully draw realistic, free-hand illustrations.
  • Attend to sensations on the left side of your body.

The mirror image of C3 in some ways, but gets activated when we recall the most beautiful place we have ever visited. Home to fluid body motion and affect. This region is entirely nonverbal.

T5 “Sensitive Mediator”

  • Notice other’s input about your social behavior
  • Are curious what someone thinks of you
  • Adjust your behavior in order to appease or conform to others’ expectations
  • Feel embarrassed.

Like F7, this region contains “mirror neurons.” When we use this region, we focus on others’ judgments regarding the appropriateness of our behavior. This region actively encourages us to change out behavior by providing feelings of embarrassment and possibly shame. Can also be activated when we wonder what others are thinking of us.

T6 “Purposeful Futurist”

  • Say the word “will”; as in what will occur in the future.
  • Imagine yourself within a complex system.
  • Notice abstract spatial-structural relationships.
  • Assign a symbolic meaning.
  • Envision your future.

This region is highly future oriented and relational. unless F7, is not “as-if” oriented, but aids in serious predictions of what will occur in reality. Holistic and weighs many abstract spatial relationships at once. Entirely nonverbal, so offerings seem obvious or mysterious. Also activated when we consider symbolic meaning. 

C3 “Tactical Navigator”

  • Identify tangible objects
  • Use physical and visual cues to move your body
  • Attend to where you end and the rest of the world begins
  • Work a problem using rote memorization

This region is the seat of the physical sense of self in the environment. It helps us integrate visual and kinesthetic cues to guide how me move our bodies. The better this region works, the faster we integrate a multitude of visual and kinesthetic inputs in order to act with rapid precision

P4 “Strategic Gamer”

  • Weigh numerous pros and cons
  • Calculate and compare various risks versus their likely rewards
  • Objectively evaluate many factors at once
  • Locate and apply leverage (influence)

This region helps us grapple highly complex programs in a comprehensive, strategic way that simultaneously considers numerous risks, uncertainties, rewards and outcomes. Helps us weigh many pros and cons at once to arrive at intuitive solutions. Associated with skillful math performance.

O1 “Visual Engineer”

  • Read a chart or diagram
  • Visually disassemble an object to visualize its components and how it works.
  • Visual how elements of an object will fit together to form a structure.
  • Mentally rotate an object in your mind’s eye

People who rely on this region are natural engineers and architects, able to mentally rotate objects, follow charts and diagrams with ease, and project how building element will fit together in their mind’s eye. This region can also compensate for or mimic deductive reasoning, by visualizing tree structures or Venn diagrams.

O2 “Abstract Impressionist”

  • View a photograph or painting
  • Sense how colors, shapes, and other elements fit aesthetically.
  • Notice or set the theme of an illustration or photograph
  • Gain an impression of a person’s character from their appearance.

Like O1, this region is incredibly visual. Unlike O1, it is imprecise and holistic. It concerns itself with visual themes: the various inter-relationships of elements that convey an image’s overall balance and meaning. We may use this region to react quickly to a person or place, detect ugly or good design, or appreciate visual art. 



Fp1 Chief Judge: Focus on explaining, making decisions, noting errors, and screening out distracting information.

Fp2 Process Manager: Focus on process, either step-by-step for tasks, or open ended creative brainstorming, or both.

F7 Imaginative Mimic: Mirror others’ behavior, pick up skills by observing others, and make imaginative inferences.

F3 Deductive Analyst: Follow a chain of logical deductions and backtrack to correct thinking due to reasoning errors.

F4 Expert Classifier: Accurately place concepts by testing them against many categories at once to find a best-fit.

F8 Grounded Believer: Evaluate people and activities in terms of like or dislike, and/or recall details with high accuracy.

T3 Precise Speaker: Focus on content of the spoken word, attend to proper grammar, usage, enunciation and diction.

C3 Factual Storekeeper: Easily memorize and execute steps of movement (dance steps, etc.), and/or recall facts.

C4 Intuitive Listener: Focus on voice tone and other affective qualities of sound. Speak in a holistic way to influence.

T4 Flowing Artist: Draw, paint, dance or otherwise use your body in a flowing, spontaneous, and/or artistic manner.

T5 Sensitive Mediator: Attend to how others respond to you and later your behavior to get more desirable results.

P3 Tactical Navigator: Integrate physical space, motion, and visual clues to move skillfully through the environment.

P4 Strategic Gamer: Weigh many pros and cons, risks and uncertainties at once in order to finesse complex situations.

6 Purposeful Futurist: State what will surely happen in the future, and/or apply a symbolic meaning to a situation.

O1 Visual Engineer: Mentally rotate, measure, arrange, assemble and explode objects with a focus on functionality.

O2 Abstract Impressionist: Notice holistic themes, patterns, and relationships in photos, paintings, and similar images.


Extraverted Sensing (Se)

Se types:

  • Show a “tennis hop” brain pattern.
  • Easily go “in the zone” in a crisis situation.
  • Quickly integrate body and sensory information.
  • Easily bored and need external stimulation.
  • Focus on literal or common interpretations.
  • Favor details that are dramatic or in motion.

The “tennis hop” brain pattern is one in which all regions of neocortex out low amplitude and out of sync. This is an effective state that requires little energy while the shifting frequencies allow the brain to quickly direct whichever regions are needed for a surprise, incoming task.

Introverted Sensing (Si)

Si types:

  • Brain activity reflects their background, training, and job expertise.
  • Get “in the zone” when reviewing past events.
  • Tend towards rote memorization, repetition, and in-depth reviews of daily events—all habits that help them burn new neural pathways.
  • Good at recalling information without a context and recalling kinship data.
  • Favor T5, which processes social feedback and T6, that helps us consider the future.

So Si seems to lead to reinforcement and specialization over time. ISTJs and ISFJs are both visual (favor O1 and/or O2). ISxJs favor Fp2 over Fp1, while ESxJs do the opposite.

Extraverted Intuiting (Ne)

Ne types:

  • Often show a “Christmas Tree” pattern.
  • Often experience creative highs.
  • Provide fast, creative responses (sometimes too creative)
  • Find it difficult to get “in the zone,” and can do so only after practicing and internalizing an activity over weeks, months, or years.
  • Use regions that support imagination.

A “Christmas Tree” pattern is one in which the neocortex is active all over, each region is of high amplitude and out-of-sync with others. This pattern indicates cross-contextual thinking. This pattern is also very energy intensive, and may produce distractions and contradictions. 

Introverted Intuiting (Ni)

Ni Types:

  • Show a whole brain, zen-like pattern
  • Show this pattern when they attack an unfamiliar, novel pattern.
  • Their zen state works best when focusing on a single question, without distraction.
  • Enter the zen state when ask to envision the future.
  • Usually benefit from a sensory focus

Their whole-brain, zen-like pattern occurs when all regions of the neocortex are in sync and dominated by brain waves that are medium-low frequency and very high-amplitude. Other types only show this pattern when they engage in their specific area of expertise, unlike Ni-ers, who also show it when tackling a new problem.

ENxJs usually benefit from a physical or sensory focus. NJs tend to be generalists compared to their SJs cousins.

Extraverted Thinking (Te)

Te types:

  • Show most efficient use of mental energy as they rely on evidence-based decision-making.
  • Rely on T3, O1, C3 and Fp1. Tend to use other areas very little, even on tasks that would normally invoke them.
  • Rely on measurably sensory information
  • Focus on goals and stimulated by task completion and error correction.
  • Tend to move to action before accurate or what-if processing, so quick efficiency can become a pitfall.
  • Show high activity in F8, which handles deeply felt personal values, often expressed negatively.
  • Female Te types show more diverse brain activity and are more responsive to social feedback.

IXTJs are more visual, attentive to tone of voice, and focus on implementation detail over quick decision-making. ESTJS attend more to details, are more open to brainstorming, and listen intently to authority figures. ENTJs can enter a creative mode similar to INTJs.

Introverted Thinking (Ti)

Ti types:

  • Show high use of four regions that afford complex logical reasoning: F3, F4, P3, P4
  • Use F3 to linearly derive solutions. (highest for ESTPs followed by INTPs)
  • Use F4 to categorize and define concepts. (highest for INTPs, followed by ESTPs)
  • Use P3 to integrate visual-kinesthetic data. (highest for ISTPs then ENTPs)
  • Use P4 to holistically weigh numerous pros and cons of many uncertain or risky factors. (highest for ENTPs followed by ISTPs)
  • Above regions are located away from direct sensory contact, so have a “deep” or “detached” quality.
  • Tend to enter a dissociated state when arguing or meeting someone new. In this state, their neocortex shuts out raw emotions in order to enjoy objectivity.
  • Least interested in listening.
  • Engage the above regions + Fp1 and Fp2 when examining a topic from multiple angles and integrating the angles into a coherent way.

INTPs are likely to quickly stop listening as they assess the relevance of what others are saying.

Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

Fe types:

  • Focus on social responsibility.
  • Stimulated by communicating their explanations and decisions.
  • Use Fp1 to suppress emotional impulses from deep in the brain in favor of sophisticated cognitive responses.
  • Use Fp2 less, so may sometimes suddenly switch from highly composed to very angry.
  • Use F5 a lot, which helps them adjust to social feedback.

ExFJs show high activity in T3, but least activity in visual regions O1 and O2. ESFJs are more left-brained, high in C3 and F7. ENFJs are might right-brained, showing high activity in F4 and T4.

Introverted Feeling (Fi)

Fi types:

  • Are consummate listeners who listen in a holistic way.
  • INFPs can deeply listen for up to 10 minutes at a time, ISFPs listen briefly and then move to action.
  • Show high activity in T3 and T4, which handle language.
  • Carefully compose their own speech, attending to both content and delivery.
  • Show high activity in F8, and are stimulated by rankings of importance.
  • Show the least activity in interior regions that aid logic.
  • Rely on left-brained (Fp1) decision making.

INFPs may get to the core of a person’s psychology by listening for so long. INFPs are less likely to defend their own views or take action, though when they stop listening, region Fp1 becomes very active as they make a strong (and perhaps final) decision.

ISFPs are attentive when others withhold information (like social feedback).


Based on Nardi’s experiences, he would classify the strength of each functions as:

Se: Act quickly and smoothly to handle whatever comes up in the moment.

Si: Review and practice in order to specialize and meet group needs.

Ne: Perceive and play with patterns of relationships across contexts.

Ni: Draw upon to whole brain to realize an answer to a novel problem.

Te: Manager resources efficiently to quickly decide based on evidence.

Ti: Reason multiple ways to objectively and accurately analyze problems.

Fe: Evaluate and communicate values to enhance social relationships.

Fi: Listen with your whole self to locate and support what’s important.

Overall, I found the book very interesting (including much of the material not summarized above). Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me was even though types did correlate to usage levels of various brain regions, one of the biggest surprises was how different types tended to use whole-brain states. Different types using different whole-brain techniques I found interesting. 

It’s also fun to look at Nardi’s summation of the function of the various brain regions, and compare oneself to the sample he gives of one’s type (more on that later). Nardi did find that members of the same type tended to use the same brain regions (even separate from whole-brain states).

(Source: savipra)

Apr 4

The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists


There seem to be a lot of posts about strong female characters on writing blogs. I’m not sure what this means, but it made me think about how I would define this character.

I believe there is a tendency to confuse strength with acting like a man. I don’t want to read about women who act like men, or men who act like women. I think a character’s strength can be measured by his or her ability to get my attention, make me empathise with, and care for, that character, and then to drive the story to its conclusion.

Here are my ideas.

The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists

Apr 4

I love your post on the personality and psychological makeup of spies. Would you consider doing a similar one for assassins? Would there be a lot of overlap?


It depends. When it comes to the real world, spies are much easier to get solid information on. There’s a fair number of autobiographies, and interviews, to say nothing of confirmed former intelligence officers like John Le Carre and (ironically) Ian Flemming, who went on to become published authors.

But, assassins? Not so much.

A couple months ago, The Howard Journal of Criminal Science published a fairly interesting analysis of assassins in the UK. And, this is honestly the best source I’ve found to date.

They break assassins down into four groups. The Novice, Dilettante, Journeyman, and Master.

Novices make up the bulk of contract killers. These guys aren’t really assassins. They like the idea of getting paid for killing someone, but that’s their only claim to the title. In reality, we’re just talking about petty criminals here. They have no specialized training, and tend to be hires of convenience. They also, usually, strike targets in their own community. For police, this makes them very easy to identify.

Dilettantes are another variety of amateur assassin. These are older individuals, who will take a contract opportunistically. They’re not, nominally, criminals, and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. We’re talking about the Walter White of contract killers here… only, again, these guys aren’t very successful. There’s actually an example, where a dilettante was unable to carry out the hit after he spoke to the intended victim. As with novices, there’s no specialized training, and they tend to stay close to home.

Journeymen are getting into actual assassin territory. These are professional, methodical killers. They’re more likely to make repeated hits successfully, but they’re also likely to get caught. They come from a mix of backgrounds including ex-military, and career criminals. As with Novices, they rarely travel for a hit, so police can usually find them during the course of their investigation.

Masters are the assassins you’re probably thinking of, and, like I said at the beginning of the post, there isn’t actually a lot to go on. They do exist, but they’re contracted, travel to a location, execute a hit, and leave. Which makes them very hard to identify for a criminal investigation. The assumption is these guys are ex-military or career criminals, but a lot of this is supposition and guesswork. Ideally, this means you’re looking at normal ex-military personality types, with a bent towards the kind of goal oriented ex-special forces outlook.

Unfortunately, as the article points out, a lot of research into assassins is built off of failure, and the master specifically exploits weakness in law enforcement investigation techniques to avoid detection. I’m actually making this sound more dramatic than it really is; if there’s no connection between the victim and their killer, any criminal investigation is going to be dependent on the killer making some forensic mistake, or being identified by other means. When we’re talking about masters, there is no local connection, so there’s no real way to identify them.

So, ex-special forces: I know I’ve talked about these guys before, but the most common personality is very disciplined and goal oriented. While ex-military can encompass a wide array of personality types, special forces programs demand soldiers who can operate autonomously for extended periods of time. Without exception, we’re talking about people who can set goals, determine the best means to achieve them, and then formulate and execute a plan. The ones I’ve met that I know actually were special forces were extremely laid back and reserved individuals, (the ones I’ve met, that I’m not sure about, weren’t.)

If your assassin is a master, then you’re not going to be looking at an unstable psychokiller. These are people who kill someone for their job, and go home.

The article excludes state sanctioned assassins and political assassins, and I get why. They were looking at killers for hire.

With state sanctioned, we’re talking about the exact same kind of special forces outlook that you get from masters, so that much is easy. With political assassins, we actually are talking about zealots and fanatics, some of the time.

Unfortunately, a lot of state sanctioned assassinations are politically motivated, so you have a professional targeting someone for a political foe.

There’s a fair amount of material on fanatics targeting political figures, from Hinckley’s attempt on Reagan’s life because he wanted to impress Jodie Foster… no, seriously, that was why, to the assassination of Lincoln, there is a massive range for the psychologically unstable to the politically radicalized, with a little bit of everything in between.

These guys are pretty easy to research, they get a lot of attention regardless of success or failure. I’d caution against using a master in that role, simply because the attention the hit would generate isn’t in their best interests.


Apr 1


How to write a proper villain redemption arc

One of the most delicate story premises in existence is a villain changing their ways. Depending on how well it’s handled, it can be one of the most beautiful, thought-provoking stories in existence or out-of-character garbage - and, unfortunately, I’ve encountered far too much of the latter. To the point where I have to speak out and say, “Y’ALL BITCHES ARE DOIN’ IT WRONG.” This guide is primarily for fanfiction, but if you’re planning an original work, you’ll probably be to take something away from this.

Read More

awesome character development: write anything - poetry works especially well, but you could also try letters, directions, grocery lists, diary entries - in the voice of your character. They might not make it into your story, but if you do one of those before writing a scene, 100% it will be better. ~nf


Thanks for the tip!