The NP Writer

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If you are an NP writer, this means you write…

Epic stories: Since you have an enormous imagination that gets its ideas from the world around it, the people you meet, and what you have also read and watched (Si), your story is likely to be epic and sprawling, set in a fantastical world straight out of your own imagination with underlining themes of greatness. (Please see: J.R.R. Tolkien, and George R.R. Martin.)

If you happen to be an NTP writer, it also means these epic stories are full of…

Controversial questions: You aren’t merely content to color inside the lines, you want to re-define the lines, challenge established characterizations, and ask hard questions of your reader. You want to make them re-evaluate their belief system and consider alternate points of view, such as “what exactly is right or wrong?” Most of all, you want to challenge social conventions. You have that externally-focused imagination and internal reasoning that makes you a master of sarcastic criticism of society – in other words, you’re Terry Pratchett.

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If you happen to be an NFP writer, your stories will be centered around…

Incredible characters: People are important to you – their stories are important for you to tell. You are going to write a world full of vivid, rich and emotionally deep characters that will resonate with your audience, either prompting their sympathy or their personal identification with that character. Relationships will play a large role in your stories. (If you are an ENFP writer, this will give you a brilliant, sprawling plot-based story full of unforgettable characters – you’re Charles Dickens. If you’re an INFP writer, characterization is at the heart of your story – and you’re J.K. Rowling.)

NP writers have the potential to be the greatest novelists of all time, because they have such rich imaginations. Unfortunately, there are also pitfalls that come with being an NP writer.

You can…

Get distracted: Become so fascinated with world building that you neglect to finish your book, or it takes you years or even decades to bring your story full circle. (Martin and Tolkien both struggle with this.)

Have too many characters: The more imaginative you are, the more characters are going to jump into your story, and make it important to you to flesh them out and give them stories of their own. This means you might go six chapters without seeing your protagonist. (Tolkien, Martin, and Dickens struggle with this.)

Take unnecessary side trails: Imaginative minds full of many ideas can get distracted and go down rabbit trails that have no real bearing on the main plot. This means the book is longer than it needs to be and moves at a slower pace than it should.

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NFP writers are going to have a natural flair for dialogue and sentence structure that the NTP writer lacks. NFP’s are more people-centered, with better communication skills, where NTP’s are rationality centered and do better at thinking than talking. As a result, the NTP is going to struggle with…

Awkward dialogue and long sentences: Your dialogue is going to be more formal and less emotional, because you are less emotional. It will sound stiff unless you focus on strengthening that aspect of your writing. The Intuitive-Rational brain functions differently than an Intuitive-Feeler brain, as well, so your sentences may be overly long, or hard to read.

The tendency to sound pretentious: You learned a ton of big words at a young age and love to use them. But the everyday reader doesn’t appreciate feeling “stupid” because they have to look up 15 letter words. Keep it simple, if you can.

Mostly, though, you procrastinate. Even if you want to finish your book, you put off working on it. So, how can you write amazing novels and finish them before getting distracted or bored? How can you avoid some of your flaws while enhancing your naturally awesome abilities?

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Set a word limit for your novel. It will give you an end in sight and keep you on target. If you write always aware of the word limit, you won’t be as tempted to derail your main plot.

Keep a character jar. When a new character hints to you that he has a terrific life story, write it down and put it aside. His story needs told, but not in this book. Write your next book about him.

Have a deadline. 80k words in 3 months is very doable. 80k words in 4 months is even more doable. The sooner you finish this story, the sooner you can move on to the next.

Read it out loud. This will help you catch weird sentences, repeated words, and awkward dialogue.

Don’t compare your writing to that of a writer of a different personality type. Emulating a type of writing that doesn’t come naturally to you will be a difficult and frustrating experience. So what if your style doesn’t appeal to a certain kind of reader? Another kind of reader is going to LOVE YOU, but they can’t unless you write the stories and characters that come naturally to you. An emotionally-driven reader isn’t going to enjoy an NTP’s plot-driven, rather logical narrative, but the NTP down the block will adore you.

17 Replies to “The NP Writer”

  1. Hi Charity, is there any way you could tell me a little about ENFP writers in depth through here or e-mail? I have found that as an ENFP writer, my struggles are description/small details, motivation, but most importantly – being worried about my word count. I feel as an enfp, even though we are known for epics, I feel like no matter how much I plan, write, edit, I’ll never be able to reach over 60,000+ words. What am I missing, am I not adding enough detail? Or am I just worried about the wrong things?

  2. Hi Everyone! I’m new here… found this site while exploring INTP. I have felt like a total odd ball in this world and was delighted to discover I actually fit somewhere, and that there are others who can understand me. It sure explains why my husband and I are so very different (he’s ESFJ, I think).
    Best of all was finding this blog as I am a writer too, and this particular blog hits so many aspects which I love and hate about writing. I find so many really good reasons to procrastinate and like to fool myself that I am not procrastinating… just dealing with real life, necessary intrusions. The truth is, that when I am secure in my working I can fly, and I love it. But then… I get nervous that no one else will like it. That I am doing something wrong. That it’s probably full of holes, or that the ending will not live up to the beginning… etc etc. Then I find other projects, all noble and good, but still distractions. This one novel clings to my soul and I can’t leave it behind. It’s like a baby that must be born but I am afraid to totally finish it and send it off into the harsh world. Good heavens, for a practically emotionless person, I sure can let this emotion get in my way. Sigh!
    Any ways, I just wanted to thank you all for your input here. It’s helped me find my feet out on this lonely hill!
    And all of a sudden Amy makes sense to me. How did I not see it???? I am so her… minus the Doctor 😦

    1. Wow, you are married to an ESFJ?! I can see where that might be an interesting relationship! 😉

      I think we’re all terrified of sharing that intimate part of ourselves — our imagination — with others. So long as a story is in our head, it’s all ours. We can revise, and edit, and change, and grow it, without others knowing about it. But once it’s down on paper, then there is so much to worry about — descriptions, emotions, actions, words. That character is now “real” to others as well as us… will we fail that character? But if we never write him or her a proper story, they will never be out of our head to make room for new adventures!

      So… go forth and write. Write it for yourself and no one else. That way, if you do send it out into the wide world to be rejected, you’ll still know that you did your best, you told your story well, and you did it for the right reason. 🙂

  3. Let’s see if this posts correctly. That last time around in your last post was weird.

    Procrastinating. Yep, I totally get that and struggle with it pretty much every day of my life.

    I usually don’t need word limits because then I struggle to reach them. I just let a story tell itself, and as my one completed book will attest, it ends around 50,000 words. Not very long, and I could probably be wordier if I wanted, but why? I can say what needs saying in fewer words, Stephen Bly style!

    I have literally no clue what type of writer I am other than occasionally uninspired. I can go for months without writing and then have a writing spree. It’s weird, but according to some published authors, that’s how they work too. I forget where I read that. Darn it, now I’ll have to hunt that person down again! I probably follow their blog. Ooh, I think it was on Goodreads!

    It’s totally awesome that you’re blogging again! You’re making Watson smile! 😉

    1. Procrastination is a universal theme that I suspect has different roots in all types. But it’s six in the morning and I have no interest in analyzing that at the moment. Heh.

      Word limits can be intimidating if it’s more than you want to write, particularly on a project you’re not passionate about. I suspect Ne-users have a harder time reigning it in than other types. Si-users need to rely on solid information and previous experiences and ideas to write their novels. Ne-users just kind of … head out there and explode all over the place. I find it harder to write when I’m uninspired; stuff turns out longer when I am inspired.

  4. Not sure what category I fall in, but it sounds like I would be an NP. I do take bits of life, experiences, sights and sounds and hide them in my stories. Course, I’m sure many other writers do the same. And yes, you should write a book about writing.

    1. It’s possible. Your interest in the Holocaust reminds me of an INFP friend of mine. I avoid it like the plague but she researches it endlessly. For some reason, from what I’ve read, INFPs are drawn to “sad things” more than other types.

  5. Wow–another great post! Good to see you blogging again! ( We missed you!!! * hugs *) While aimed at NP writers, I think posts like these are worth reading for all writers.

    I really wish there was something similar (or maybe I have to write it myself, ha!) for NFJ writers, because as usual I find myself nodding along with some aspects of your post, but feeling that others don’t really apply to me. The epic cast of characters–oh yes (when did my heroine get so many second cousins???), the side trails (who says an underlying fourth plot is a bad thing?), and the long sentences. But I’ve never been as intensely interested in world building. While I’ve written fantasy (I have two half-finished novels lying around, set in different countries of the same fantasy world) I usually tend to have a “template” in mind if you will, based on some real world culture, so I don’t really spend that much time “building” the universe. Tolkien’s world in fact, and those of some other fantasy authors can seem almost too elaborate for my tastes, as if there’s too much information about the world to “remember” whenever I try reading the books. That said, as you said above, people shouldn’t worry about trying to write like, or for another sort of personality. Hey–I might not care that much for Tolkien but I know his works have brought many of my friends hours of happiness, and I think that’s great. Dickens however, I love, love, love, and always think it’s a pity when people call his novels “convoluted” no–no it’s just right–and every member of his grand cast of characters is sooo memorable! J.K. Rowling’s awesome too! It’s been a while since I read the books, but I can still remember them all, not just Harry, Hermione and Ron, but Neville, Luna, or even Lockheart or Rita Skeeter! Yes, I get why people might not consider them “great literature” but you know what? They bring both joy and tears to people–and so I would say a story that can do that, still posssesses a sort of greatness–even if it’s a greatness of imagination rather than intellect in this case.

    P.S.
    I never thought of this before but–have you thought of writing a sort of book of “how-to” tips for aspiring writers? Perhaps as a collaboration with writers of the other MBTI types?)

    P.S.P.S.
    You mentioned fantasy above–but would you say it’s possible that some science fiction writers have been NPs, especially NTPs? Given the complex plot and world building you see in some classic sci-fi novels, especially those that would go into incredible detail about the possibilities and realistic likelihood of space travel or extraterrestrial habitation? (I came across something about golden age “pulp” science fiction recently, so it just struck me)

    1. I can’t prove it, but I have a theory that a the longest books are written by NPs, because they have so many ideas they can’t narrow it down to just one plot. That being said… are you absolutely positive you’re an ENFJ and not an ENFP?

      These things look very NFP to me:

      You love history and believe in some amount of historical accuracy. I have a theory that writers with Si somewhere in their function stack are more interested in the past and in being “true” to it, because Si-users value past experiences and civilizations. Most of the NPs I know are also history buffs – and not just interested in one part of history, but history on the whole.

      You have multiple projects going at once, none of them completely finished. NPs use Ne as either their first or second function: Ne is a supernova of ideas that keeps building on itself and ever-reaching outward, which also means as a dominant function you can get easily distracted by a new character or idea – and set aside one project to work on another.

      You base your fantasy worlds on real-world cultures. That looks like Ne-Si – looking outside yourself for ideas and referencing past information to build new ideas.

      NFPs aren’t as concerned with world building as NTPs. NTPs want their world to be logical and realistic, even if they’re writing fantasy and sci-fi. The NTP sci-fi writer (and yes, there are TONS of them – in fact, that’s probably the most popular genre NTP writers write in) will want to establish rules and logical ideas within their imaginary world that still tie it in some way to reality. It has to be fantastical, but also plausible. That’s why you’ll find a million NTPs on any sci-fi forum complaining about logical plot holes in sci-fi movies (how DO those air ships in Thor fly, since they’re so out of proportion?)… in Klingon. LOL

      Considering Tolkien spent years developing entire languages for Middle-earth, I think he was the biggest sci-fi/fantasy nerd of all time. =P

      I write shorter books because I like to read shorter books. But there are many readers out there who enjoy longer books.

      1. When I first discovered MBTI, I wondered briefly if I might be an ESFJ, INFJ or ENFP. There were definitely similarities, and a lot of experiences described by these types that I identified with. But ultimately, various details just sounded too “off”. I knew I was less spontaneous or impulsive, too analytical, and certainly not an introvert (despite having been a far more reserved child) and the ENFJ type, which was my most frequent result, seemed like the best fit.

        I just found this site which contrasts some of the differences between types http://www.preludecharacteranalysis.com/explore/compare What’s interesting is how some aspects of similar types can appear so alike that you might almost wonder if there’s any real difference. But put it all together and the overall profile formed can be very different!

        Hmm, I just finished scouring the internet for stuff about how your MBTI personality shapes your writing and found…not much (aside from a few things like the site you linked Gina to below). Yet I bet personality strongly influences writing, perhaps in some ways as strongly as experiences or interests do. Ever finish a book and think “Wow! That was a great read–but I couldn’t write something like that!”? Not because of lack of talent (although yes, * sigh* that can be a factor), but because we just can’t imagine seeing or describing the world in that way. Whenever I read books on writing, they’ll talk about how cultivating a style takes work, you have to read lot of books in the genre you’re writing, and practice, practice, practice. This is quite true, but I think the artful wit of a Pratchett or hardboiled voice of a Dashiell Hammet still comes more naturally to some than others.

        It’s also fascinating to read about the different approaches people take to writing. I’ve heard of some who say they need incredibly detailed outlines, with notes on each chapter, and sometimes down to planning each paragraph! On the other hand I’ve heard of people who say they just start writing and see what happens! There are people who know how their trilogy will end YEARS in advance, and people who say they didn’t really figure out the end until the last few chapters. To a certain extent, I slightly envy both approaches, as neither is quite me! I’m also a bit amused at how I’ve seen BOTH approaches advocated in different writing books. Some order you to keep an index card and file for every character, and talk about drawing up charts for your plot. Then there are the ones that continually urge you to “write the first thing that comes to mind! Seize inspiration wherever you find it! Let your imagination take free reign! The plot will write itself!” etc;

        Actually–historical accuracy, or the lack thereof, is something I find myself often wondering about when it comes to some novels. I understand it’s not humanly possible to check every detail, or that some common misconceptions creep in, but some writers do such a sloppy job you wonder why they even bother writing in a historical setting. Furthermore, (as you mentioned above 😉 ) while some types are more obsessi–*cough*–thorough, about their research than others, many authors seem to have done barely any research at all. Their novels reveal nothing about Colonial Massachusetts that we couldn’t find in your average grade school textbook. The portrayal of Gilded Age high society feels like they wrote it after watching a bad remake of a bad adaptation of Victorian-era BBC drama.

        Writers give so much of themselves when they write, it’s to be hoped their books can give the readers something too, whether it be insight, information, or just pure enjoyment.

        P.S.
        How is it that you always manage to choose such perfect images to go with your post!
        P.S.P.S.
        Who is the pale, dark haired lady in the last image?

        1. You really can’t go entirely by the online profiles – they make the INTP sound like a math jerk, but I’m actually using all my functions and I’m only thirty years old. Many of the INTPs I’ve run with online are actually very sensitive and kind. The function theory is that you use the first two functions in your first fifteen years, then your third function kicks in, and as you get older and have more life experience, your fourth function starts working. Mine of Fe got kick-started at a young age since I was always getting yelled at for being “cold,” “insensitive,” and rude by my so-called friends. I’m really not spontaneous at all (although if I’m having fun, and out and about, I’ll agree to do spontaneous things), and rarely impulsive, yet I’m still an INTP. (Amy Pond, if you type her by functions, is an INTP – at first glance, you’d think she was an extrovert, but she’s not. Explains why I love her so much.)

          The ENFJ writer is going to be highly motivated to finish what they start. They’re going to get frustrated if the project is taking too long. And they’re not going to find it easy to be objective on their topic. Ti (wanting to understand how things and people work, not really caring about using the information) is their final, and least-used, function. How long have you been analytical? Did something kick-start it?

          My dad is an ENFP. He’s lovely. He likes people but also needs some time alone (for whatever reason, ENFPs are the most introverted of the extroverted types). He’s not very impulsive or spontaneous (unless he wants to buy something, heh). He is usually motivated by a purpose – putting his knowledge to specific use, but because it’s his third function he can be somewhat distracted and disorganized. His Ne takes him off on side conversations… like the one we’re having now. LOL My NJ mother on the other hand decides what she’s going to do, and does it – all very quickly. It’s possible you’re an ENFJ but I think it’s also possible you’re an ENFP like Elizabeth Bennet.

          Writers all give advice based on what works for them (as I did in this post) and yes, that comes from different personality types. The ones who suggest reading books in your genre are probably Si/Ne types. (You can tell when someone is trying to write in a genre their mind doesn’t want to write in naturally – it’s stiff, hence why I can’t write satire like Pratchett. I tried and it felt forced.) The detailed outline people are probably Ni’s – they have an internal vision they need to chart out before they start writing. The non-planners… that would be me. I just set out with a general goal or plot twist in mind and let the story form itself. The chart-users are Te’s – Te’s love their charts. My mother loves her charts, and mind maps, and diagrams. (She’s an INTJ.)

          Like I theorized, I think it’s possible Si-users care more about accuracy than other writers. Me, being Ne-Si, I appreciate imagination and will forgive some inaccuracies for a good tale. But if it’s not a good tale, or it butchers history too badly, I have a problem with it. It’s strange – my ISFJ best friend isn’t such a stickler for historical accuracy, yet will object extremely strongly to random infractions on history. She had a bit of a tantrum over “Sleepy Hollow” on Fox messing with the Founding Fathers – I merely said, “AWESOME.” LOL

          The dark-haired girl is Claire Foy, who played “Adorabella” in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal miniseries for ITV.

          1. Say–have you seen this profile? http://www.personalitypage.com/INTP.html I sorta assumed you had, as they seem to pop up on the internet a lot, but it’s one of the few non-math jerky profiles I’ve seen of an INTP!

            Haha, actually my Mom and I recently had a conversation where she said she could not believe the extent to which I would analyze stuff when I was a 4 year old. For instance I noticed that a lot of books my Mom read to me featured “mother and child” stories (think: Runaway Bunny), I also noticed that these books featured the child being “wrong” and the mother being always “right”, and that by the happy ending the child character always saw the error of their ways. I began to wonder if this was all part of some grand scheme to make kids everywhere be “good”…or maybe that was just my paranoia setting in early on. I used to spend time pondering the hidden “implications” of a lot of things in my daily life as well, noticing certain trends, or wondering if there were connections between vaguely similar objects and ideas.

            Now as to Feeler stuff, yeah–I definitely had that at an early age, but it came naturally–you know that stuff about being good at reading other people’s emotions? It can actually be a bit disconcerting for a kid. I remember being about 7-8, and getting a REALLY strong vibe, impression, whatever you want to call it, that our middle aged teacher was crushing on one of the (much younger) male substitute teachers. This just seemed so odd though–and I spent some time turning it over in my little head before finally deciding “That can’t be true because Mrs.—- is MARRIED, and married people only feel that way about each other, they can/would never like anyone else!” (Ah…innocence! It would be a few more years before I learned that adultery was a “thing” 😛 )

            What–you don’t call writing without a proper plan recklessly spontaneous AND impulsive? 😉

            Looking over all this, I think part of the problem it can be hard to type oneself is because sometimes neither profile fully “clicks”. Another thing is that I think how well, or how much one’s true personality is expressed, might be due to circumstances. There are those who work with the public and thus continually force themselves to be more outgoing, even if they find it draining. While others might become excessively withdrawn if attempts at friendliness were usually met with hostility. In fact, I suspect a lot of people, sadly, are not their true selves, sometimes due to circumstances beyond their control.

            Very interesting video! (Not really sure about the money thing as you said, there are a LOT of people who want to be rich, and a LOT who denounce the evils of capitalism and I doubt they’re all ENFPs or ENFJs) I do find it fascinating however, how he’s focusing on those little, sometimes almost indescribable differences between people to build a case for how you might tell the difference between ENFP vs ENFJ! Though as usual, I find myself wondering how well an ESTP can understand an ENFP or ENFJ type. When exploring the MBTI forums, I found that when browsing the ENFJ or similar type forums I’d be nodding and going “Yup, totally get that–oh my gosh that’s exactly how I always feel!” But for say, the ISTJ, ESFP, and some others–the mindset just seemed really foreign. These people sounded intelligent, sweet, and they’d probably be awesome to know, but I could just tell they saw the world VERY differently.

            This is actually another thing that drives me crazy–I don’t mind not being able to write with a certain “voice”, because it’s just not–well, me. But I do worry about portraying characters who are very different from myself. I’ve noticed this flaw in some books–every character who could be called a Thinker comes off as cold or mean. Every Extrovert is airheaded and annoying etc; This probably explains as well why some authors’ protagonists, or even love interests will sound very similar, despite the difference in the characters’ appearance or the novel’s setting.

          2. Thanks! =)

            I have almost no memories of my childhood or my teenage years except for random, isolated events – no specifics, just general impressions. People tell me I was a funny little girl – quick to make a joke, and rather melodramatic. I liked making people laugh. (Still do.) I do recall one incident where I was utterly confused as to why a 13 year old would do something intentionally to make her mother mad. That was so illogical to me, to make someone angry at you who takes care of you! I tried to fit in with the other girls but was nothing like them. Didn’t think about marriage, or children, never planned for a wedding or invented the perfect husband. I was too busy reading Sherlock Holmes and writing stories.

            I was always very kind and shy, but not all that careful with my words or opinions. It was only after a few blow-ups and I got sick of people spewing emotional vomit all over me that I started being more “sensitive” toward others’ feelings in my responses. I honestly don’t know how other people feel, but I can logically figure out how they PROBABLY feel, and I have sympathy for just about anyone in any bad situation, even if I don’t like them. My intuition even as a kid led me to “sense” things about people and things – I knew if there was innuendo in a movie, even if it was clever about it. I knew something was “off” with various people and later on, they proved me right.

            Since writing without a plan rarely gets you killed, nah, I wouldn’t call it reckless or spontaneous. Reckless would be deciding to go skydiving. Spontaneous would be getting up one morning, climbing in the car, and driving to Reno without a plan.

            Some types are very hard to tell apart, so you have to look at the smaller things to identify them. ENFPs and ENFJs are both humanitarians. They might make exactly the same choice for two different reasons. As to how well he can understand other types – he can’t. Like me, he merely studies a lot, observes a wide variety of people, and forms objective theories on probabilities. You know your own type (if you’re actually sure of your own type and it fits) the best, and the types of the people closest to you the best; the rest is guesswork and gradual internalization of information.

            I mostly worry that my characters are too cold, since writing emotion is so foreign to me. Do most of my characters resemble me in some way? Probably, since I’d rather die than write an incurable romantic rather than an opinionated, logical-leaning heroine, but I’m not terribly worried about it.

        2. PS: Here is an example of ENFJ vs. ENFPs. He’s right on a lot of things except for the bit about wealth and capitalism — my dad loves to make money, and he’s very good at it (that ENFP way of talking himself in and out of anything). He’s an ESTP, so he tends to ramble a bit (planning? Nah, I’ll wing it) and he occasionally uses bad language, but he’s highly entertaining. I’ve watched all his videos. 😀

  6. Very interesting! Did you use a source for this, or was it based on your own observations? If you used a source, I’d love to know what it is, so I could look up NF writers like myself!

    1. It’s based on my own observances, the relationships I have with other NP writers (and NPs in general — my dad is one), and what I know about cognitive functions.

      Back when I thought I was an INFJ, I thought this was an interesting read, but of course, as an undiagnosed NTP, I couldn’t identify with much of it! (Patterns? Planning? Naw, I just dive in and let the story unfold as I go, then look back at the end and say, “Ohhh! So THAT was the point I was trying to make!” — which totally baffles my NJ mother. I mentioned the fact that sometimes when I start a writing project, I have only a vague notion of where it’s going and figure it out as I go, and she stared at me with horror. That is absolutely not how she does things!)

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