Is Your Protagonist a Thinker or a Feeler?

I just started reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, having already seen the movie and feeling that I would like to do the work justice by also reading the book. I’m maybe 20 pages in and I can already tell that Charlie, the narrator and protagonist, has a lot of feelings. To be fair, he’s also undergoing some pretty intense stuff, so that’s understandable, but it seems like he’s very in tune with his emotions. One might say that he seems like he’d be a Feeler in the context of the Myers-Briggs type, but you’d have a skewed idea of what Feeling actually is.

Feeling and its MBTI counterpart Thinking, like the concepts of extroversion and introversion, are personality indicators that can be used to develop your characters. They’re not exactly what you think they would be though.

The Difference Between Thinking and Feeling

When a character has the Feeling trait, it’s easy to conjure up the idea of them being more in tune with their emotions, and being more comfortable expressing these emotions. This isn’t actually the case. A person with the Feeling trait likes to make decisions based on personal convictions and the people involved in the decision. Feelers desire harmony with others in their decision making.

Thinkers, on the other hand, are not necessarily exceptionally intelligent or introspective. Thinkers base their decisions on facts and objective observations. While a Feeler wants to make sure that all concerned parties are content with the ultimate outcome of a decision, a Thinker is more concerned with the principles and truths at work in the decision. Pros and cons lists are common indicators of a Thinker, and a Thinker is more likely to base their decision in objective fairness.

The simplest way to differentiate Thinkers and Feelers: Thinkers value truth over tact, while Feelers value tact over truth.

PRACTICE

Write a scene in which a Thinker or Feeler is trying to determine how best to spend Memorial Day weekend. Maybe there is a third party involved in the decision as well.

About Liz Bureman

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.

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