Personality Type in Writing: Details vs. The Big Picture

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Our flooded backyard… there’s a pond along the back fence that you can’t see very well

Right now it’s like monsoon season, seriously.  It rained almost all of last week.  We got a reprieve for the weekend, now looks like more rain is in store for this week.  I tried to find the actual amount, but that was a big fat fail.  So you’ll just have to take my word.  There’s flood warnings, roads closed, and our backyard (pictured above–not the greatest representation… a pond has formed along the back fence) looks like a swamp.  Even our dogs don’t want to go outside… and they’re labs.  I’m like you guys are supposed to like water.  Go, have fun, frolic in the wetness.  But they just sit there looking at me like I have four heads and each one has gone bonkers.  It is a little chilly though, averaging a high of about 45 degrees, so maybe that’s their aversion.  Whatever the reason, just know it’s raining a lot, which is making our sump pump run almost nonstop.  And every time it turns on my husband, Matt, is on high alert.  Why you ask?  Well, because he’s afraid it’s going to break, our basement (which is half-finished) will flood, and we’ll be bailing out water all night.  And here’s my reaction to his concern: shoulder shrug, “Eh, whatever.”  Because our sump pump is only two years old, so I’m not worried it’s going to break.  Even if it was older, I don’t think I would be worried.  It’s not my style.  This is more my style of worrying… I’ll never have a career I enjoy (i.e. writing), everyone will see me as a failure, and I’ll be stuck in this pervasive cycle of negativity forever.  Nothing major.  But that’s the difference between my husband and I.  He’s a details man, worrying about all the little stuff (I don’t know how he does, I’d have a giant ulcer gnawing through my stomach by now).  And I’m a big picture thinker that worries about future implications.  If anything we balance each other well.

So what does this have to do with anything?  Well, it got me thinking about writing.  Now I could go all personality type on you, which I studied in college, but… okay I will.  There’s SO much I could say on this topic, but I’ll try to keep my focus.  I’m sure in the future I’ll post multiple stories on this subject.  So if you’re curious my husband is an ISFJ and I’m an INFJ.  Now I know your two letter type (i.e I would be an NF and my husband an SJ) will affect your writing more, but for this post I’m just focusing on the S and N dichotomy where the “S” stands for sensing and the “N” stands for intuition.  Sensors being the details people and intuitives being the big picture dreamers.   When I think of these two I imagine things to represent them.  Take sensors who I envision as the cool colors like green and blue, the shape of a square (note I’m not saying they are square), earth, dirt, nature, garden gnomes (which I love by the way), things you can touch, feel, see, hear, smell, get your hands dirty with.  And intuitives I see as the warm colors like red and orange, the shape of a circle, air, clouds, space, pink flamingos (which I also love), thoughts, things you can’t see.  I’m strange, just go with it.  And I’m digressing, so let’s bring this back on topic.

Evidence of my gnome and pink flamingo love: Mr. Bird Brain on the left and his friends Thelma and Louise on the right
Evidence of my gnome and pink flamingo love: Mr. Bird Brain on the left and his friends Thelma and Louise on the right

What I want to talk about is how these letters affect one’s writing.  On one hand you have writers like Wendy Corsi Staub and Kathy Reichs where trivial details pack the book from page to page.  It seems almost like each chapter is a short story.  They represent the sensors of the writing world.  Yet, you have other writers like James Patterson and Lisa Scottoline who have fast paced novels where details are sparse.  Almost like each chapter builds into the other creating the big picture.  The intuitives.  Neither is better than the other, but can you tell which I prefer?  It’s good that there’s something for everyone, but in this 140 character world where we communicate more in text messages than long lengthy prose I wonder which is more desired.  So which do you like more?  When there’s a lot of details  that leaves little to envision or when you have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks?

Whatever your letter, I think both types can produce fun and entertaining stories.  Now if we could just figure out a way to make these rains stop life would be good.  And if that darn sump pump breaks… you can bet I’ll be eating my words!

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2 thoughts on “Personality Type in Writing: Details vs. The Big Picture

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