Writing Tool for Character Sketches

The tool I’m going to tell you about today is actually quite fun whether you plan to use it to assist with a character sketch, or you just want to learn more about your personality.

Developing characters can be a struggle when delving deeper into their motivations and reactions to other characters while staying true to their personality. So while editing my novel, I went in search of ways to help me develop my character sketches. Some people pull together their character sketches before writing a novel (way to go, good job, I wish I could, but I don’t), I find that my character’s take on a life of their own once they hit the page regardless of what planning I do beforehand, but when I’m done with my first draft I go back and clean up the characters.

Let’s get right to it, the website 16Personalities offers a free personality quiz, which according to the site takes less than 12 minutes to complete. I didn’t time myself, but I’m pretty sure it took even less time than that. The results though, are intriguing. When I finished the quiz, I had 18 pages of information on my personality, which is amazing for the small amount of time I spent on the quiz. My personality type is advocate, in other words I like to help people. Even when trying to conceive my author platform, nothing felt like the right fit until I came up with Igniting the Flame, the idea that passion will generate excitement in others to pursue what they love. Sharing what I love has evolved into sharing what I’ve learned about the writing craft in the hope that my experiences will help hasten the progress of emerging writers.

Back to the personality quiz. The results to this quiz provide personality strengths and weaknesses, information on how the personality type behaves in romantic relationships, friendships, how they deal with co-workers, and what they’re like as parents. It also discusses the types of careers that the personality type are drawn to, what they’ll be most successful at, and what careers they may do well in, but which will leave them feeling unfulfilled.

I’m telling you, when it came to the careers, they hit on every major path I’ve been on. It said advocates were drawn to where they can help people, like counselors, psychologists, doctors, etc. I started out studying biology/pre-med in college with the intent of becoming a doctor, and even when I decided to switch gears and go into journalism, I started out with a double major that included psychology. In careers that advocates will “wilt” in, well I won’t go into depth in that area, but I hit on those careers too. Under the rewarding careers for this personality type, you may not be surprised to hear writing is included in the list of artistic endeavors that this personality type thrives in.

When reading the career section, it was like reading my resume, I’d been in a job or pursued every point they made. I was drawn to certain fields, but it wasn’t right for me. I excelled in other fields, but I could feel myself wilting. And the area where my personality type feels most fulfilled, I’ve never been happier.

Since I was amazed by how accurate the results were in even pointing out my strengths and weaknesses, I decided to put my characters through the quiz. In my novel, I have three main characters, so I took the test for each of them and answered the questions as my characters would answer them. The result, I started getting a clearer understanding of the differences between my characters, who at times were seeming a little too similar, even for lifelong friends. And immediately I started picking out characters’ actions in my novel that weren’t consistent with their personalities. And it was eye-opening. Even with my brainstorming beforehand and thinking I had a grasp on these characters, they still had behavior that conflicted with their motivations and goals that I didn’t pick up on until reviewing their personality traits. Little things that in the grand-scheme of a book will make a big difference.

I haven’t put these results to full use yet, but sometimes when you find a great tool, you don’t want to keep it to yourself in case other writer’s are facing the same struggles. I hope you find it helpful. Happy writing.



  1. // Reply

    What a great idea. Fun, too. Sometimes, when I’ve read and edited a piece of work so many times that the words blur, I need something to get me excited again. Games like this are great for that.

    1. // Reply

      I agree. Writing the story, even though there can be down times, is really the fun part. So getting excited about your characters again and breathing new life into the story can be a stumbling block. Haha. I’m trying to see how many clichés I can add to this comment. Not really, but you know what I mean. Sometimes every part of the process needs inspiration.

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