If you are a writer, how do you decide what your protagonist’s personality will be?
I recently started giving this deeper thought after watching Pitch Black for the millionth time. I love that movie because of the titular character, Riddick. My favorite characters tend to be similar; taciturn, introverted, cunning, decided, and functioning by a moral compass of their own making. Riddick definitely possess all of those traits.
I considered Riddick’s personality traits and I tried to determine what his personality would be based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The best I could come up with was ISTP (introversion, sensing, thinking, perception) because he is not a people person, he uses his senses to gather information and understand the world around him, hence the silver eyes that help him see in the dark, he acts based on what he thinks is right as opposed to his feelings, and he keeps his options open, usually for the swift get away. Based on the old D&D alignment trait system, I believe that Riddick is chaotic neutral.
Chaotic neutral characters are wild, unpredictable and often follow their own personal code without a care for others — they are often selfish and the only thing predictable about them is their unpredictable natures. This is the alignment of rogues, anti-heroes, the mad (when not chaotic evil) as well as characters who do not follow normal ethical codes but do not actively seek to destroy the natural order either (as a chaotic evil character would).
Yup. Sounds like Riddick to me.
This got me thinking about the main character of my WIP, The Hinterland Chronicles. Dr. Bilqis Haq is a law abiding citizen. She wants to keep the peace, and although spiritually conflicted she is willing to do anything, including stuffing her feelings and beliefs, to bring such peace to fruition. She is what I like to term a sheeple. In other words, she is a follower and is never a willing leader. By the end of my WIP, life will change drastically for my poor little protagonist. The calm she wishes to maintain will be challenged. She will be forced to choose sides, neither of which is optimal. There will be no good choices and she will not have the option of hanging back and letting someone else do the choosing.
In the process, her personality will eventually change. She will cease to be lawful good. She will become chaotic good or perhaps, if pushed chaotic neutral. Watching Bilqis make the change will be exciting.
I decided to take the Alignment Test myself, just to see where I fall on the spectrum. I was not surprised to learn that, like Riddick I am chaotic neutral. I knew I’d be chaotic neutral because of ‚my willingness to challenge tradition, my unwillingness to follow societal normative behaviors without first questioning their usefulness, and my willingness to break the rules if they do not make sense to me.
My Myers Briggs personality isINTP along with Marie Curie, Jung, Einstein, Data and Seven of Nine (Star Trek), Sherlock Holmes, and Albus Dumbledore.
What alignment trait is your favorite character? What alignment trait are you? What are your Myers-Briggs characteristics?