Writer’s Notes: Introvert vs. Extrovert

I’m a bit discombobulated this week, what with taking last Friday
off, and then having Monday as a holiday from the day job. Yesterday was
a bit like plunging into glacial waters – a serious reality check after
having four days to do my own thing, but I survived.
In
any case, bear with me…I’m still sort of brain dead from the whole
work thing. Being around people wears me out, even more so when that
includes a lot of noise, activity, and sometimes requires input from me.
It’s the whole introverted thing – while I may not seem like your
average introvert (I’m not shy and I do a decent job blending in for the
most part), it’s harder to deal with when I have a few blissful days to
myself and then suddenly have to deal with people again.  
Naturally, this gets me thinking about the characters in my books – are they introverts? Extroverts? Does it matter?
I
think it does – and I also think that to this point, most of my
characters have been introverted to various degrees. It wasn’t a
conscious decision on my part – I just write the characters as they are
in my head. But I think that because I’m drawn to other introverts, my
subconscious gives me that kind of a mental baseline to write from.
Probably because that’s what I *know* from a very personal standpoint,
and because it’s hard for me to empathize with people who draw strength
from being around other people. 
Honestly, a
lot of extroverts annoy me if I have to be around them for too long.
Which I know isn’t the “nice” thing to say, and it’s probably
politically incorrect as well, but I’m not saying they’re bad people, or
that they need to stop being the way they are (because they can’t,
anymore than I can) – I’m just saying that they wear me down far more
quickly than another introvert would, so the time I can comfortably spend
with them is far, far shorter. Even online, I tend to limit contact with
extroverts when I don’t have the energy to be around their general
enthusiasm for socializing.
So *that* made me wonder, do extroverted
characters have the same effect? And then it hit me. I am currently
writing a character who has an extroverted personality…and frankly,
she’s been very difficult for me to pin down. Granted, I keep her busy
running with the plot, but at her core, she’s someone who draws strength
from being around other people, which is why she’s (mentally) having a
hard time with the tasks she needs to accomplish alone. When I’m writing
her, I can feel her discomfort, her weariness, and her need for human
companionship…and it does wear me out more than working with a heroine
who is happy being on her own.
One of these
days, I think it would be an interesting study to write an opposites
attract story (I don’t generally like them because it’s hard to find a
reasonable compromise for which they’ll stay together long-term),
wherein the push-pull between introvert and extrovert are exaggerated.
Perhaps just a short story though, since it will undoubtedly be quite
draining to write…

Are your characters introverted, extroverted, or a nice mix? Did you plan it that way, or did it sort of just happen?


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2 comments on “Writer’s Notes: Introvert vs. Extrovert

  1. anne gallagher

    What an interesting concept. I had never thought one way or the other whether my characters were introverted (like me) or extroverted. There are sever who are “shy” but I’m not sure that would classify them as intro.

    Wow, I’m going to have to take a good look at this. Thanks Jamie. And thanks for your input the other day on my blog.

  2. Jamie DeBree

    Glad it made you think, Anne. I think for me, this is going to give me a deeper way to relate to characters, even if the outcome isn’t glaringly obvious to the reader (as it shouldn’t be, really). 🙂