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The Myers-Briggs INTJ

Variously known as ‘the Masterminds’ or ‘the Architects’, INTJ personalities are the third-rarest personality type in the human population (2.1%), and the rarest type for women (0.9%).

What’s my Myers-Briggs personality type?

Because INTJs value facts and logic above all else, they’re lousy leader’s followers. Tell an INTJ to do something that they deem to be stupid or illogical, or feed them a line of BS, and you lose their interest and respect immediately. They’re also generally heavily introverted (there’s the ‘I’ for you), and when forced into a social situation, loathe pointless small-talk above all other unholy perversions. It tires them, it bores them, and they’d much rather be alone with their thoughts (‘T’) or a good book.

There’s also a strong correlation between a high IQ and INTJ, so chances are your INTJ acquaintance may not be Einstein, but they’re very likely in the 115 IQ points and up segment of the population.

To complete an INTJ’s social alienation, they’re also highly intuitive (‘N’), meaning that from their earliest memories (usually starting around age 2), their brains have been storing bits and snippets of observation, fact, and fiction like a magpie in a silver shop, and anything you say or do will be unconsciously run against all this stored data and meet the ‘J’ (judgement) part of the personality type.

The INTJ writer

…actually, writing meets almost all the criteria for an INTJ to deem it shiny. It’s a highly solitary pursuit, it requires research, it requires attention to detail, and it requires having your ducks in a row.

INTJs are analytical (fine, yes, we could stop at anal) and objective, which means that whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, it’s going to be researched, structured, and probably have a sting in the tail. They may not bother to simplify their thoughts very much, which can lead readers to find their work complex, but by and large, it’s liable to be worth the effort.

INTJ writers include Isaac Asimov, Jane Austen, Stephen Hawking, and Jean-Paul Sartre. My source posits Robert Heinlein as well, which would make me happy since he’s one of my favourite sci-fi writers. I actually loathe Jane Austen with a passion, but I do understand I’m in a minority there.

The INTJ character

Because this type is so rare, and not in the least touchy-feely, a lot of writers either avoid this type altogether or try to write one and fall wide of the mark. INTJ female characters even more so, not least because the norm is not to challenge social stereotypes so far as to discomfort the audience, and a female INTJ needs a knight in shining armour like a fish needs a bicycle.

I put it to you that INTJ characters are worth the effort to research, if you don’t happen to be an INTJ or know any to ask, and I say this because they make great cliché-disruptors for a story-line. They’re not always nice people. They will always do what they think is the most logical thing to do. They will always be somewhere in the background, watching, thinking, and judging. Your basic INTJ, by most standards, is an arsehole. They’re also highly effective, intelligent arseholes who are physically incapable of forgetting and only have a nodding acquaintance with the concept of forgiving.

Your assassin-scout-mage character is a great INTJ fit, as is the sneak-thief or the evil vizier. You may also find the occasional paladin in the bunch, but as a rule INTJs are too pragmatic to make a heroic last stand unless it’s actually going to work. They make fantastic mercenaries, evil geniuses, and lone wolves.

One of the best INTJ-type anti-heroes I ever read was Dorothy Dunnett’s Francis Crawford of Lymond. He describes (The Game of Kings) himself as being perceived as a mountebank: “Versatility is one of the few human traits which are universally intolerable. You may be good at Greek and good at painting and be popular. You may be good at Greek and good at sport, and be wildly popular. But try all three and you’re a mountebank. Nothing arouses suspicion quicker than genuine, all-round proficiency.”

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