Introversion, Extraversion, and characterization

Filed in Characters, personalityTags: ,

Portraying introversion and extraversion properly in your writing isn’t critical, but it does help you create more realistic characters, which is excellent if that’s what you’re after.

Introversion

Courtesy TV Tropes

An introvert being rudely intruded upon

Have you ever met someone who liked to be alone, didn’t seem too thrilled with the idea of small talk, and/or seemed enamored with nerdy pursuits? Or maybe you are that person? I know I am. Well, chances are that they’re an introvert. They make up about 25-40% of the population, and are amongst the most misunderstood groups in society, but I’m not going to get into that, simply because misunderstood groups are not the focus of this blog.

Once you understand what makes an introvert tick, they’re easy to write. In general, they think that conversation should be used to transmit information, not as some social nicety done simply for the sake of social expectation, which is part of the reason why they can be so harsh in their criticisms of others, and the entire reason they hate small talk. Of course, more extraverted people often don’t understand this, which leads to the perception that introverts are smug.

Also, in general, they tend to have fewer but closer friends, because they don’t believe that you should be called a friend unless you demonstrate to them that you are an interesting person. It may sound stuck up, but it’s really not. Also, once you manage to pull off the difficult task of gaining their trust, they will generall be the most reliable people you will ever meet.

They do have some potential to become a liability in any job that requires close coordination to complete, though their introspective focus may give them boost they need to finish the job. You decide how you want to go about that. Also, annoyingly, they tend to be portrayed as freaks in some fiction. Please try to avoid that. For my sake, if nothing else.

Extraversion

courtesy TV Tropes

An extravert in her natural environment

Extraverts are just the opposite of introverts. These are the friendly, outgoing, gregarious people who you see most often, simply because they put themselves out there more than introverts. They generally enjoy being around people, making new friends and having fun. Their weakness, however, is that they need more stimulation to keep entertained than their introverted counterparts, meaning they handle isolation and boredom more poorly than them.

As they enjoy interacting with people, and may love small talk, they may drive their introverted counterparts up a wall (especially if they’re an extreme extravert and their conversation partner is an extreme introvert), but any activity that requires a large amount of interaction with others is sure to make the extravert right at home, which is probably why so many politicians and reality show stars are extreme extraverts.

As you can see, there’s a lot of potential for good storytelling just from using these aspects of personality. As long as you’re careful to avoid stereotyping, then you should be able to create some really interesting character relationships, just by using these aspects, though you should probably consider others, such as interests and overall attitude.

And thus we end the personality section of the characterization series. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about effectively implementing strengths and flaws for your character. If you’re interested in learning about your own personality, two websites I can recommend are MyPersonality.info and Type Logic. This is for the Myers Briggs Typolgy Indicator, by the way, and, for the record, I am an INTP.

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