Every Great Story Needs A Villain
In trying to understand the characters I’m writing about. I took the Myers-Briggs Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test. It’s a methodology, personality questionnaire. This assessment is designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. This is the essence of understanding characters. Or so I would imagine. I needed a baseline to find how accurate the test would be for determining my personality. My results were successfully intriguing. And as most personality test results go, it highlighted key aspects of my cerebral character.
Now understand that some writers deal with voices inside their heads (most are only character voices trying to tell their stories, others not so much). The only way to silence those voices is to record the story. For example, there is a story about a Navajo grandfather who once told is grandson, “Two wolves live inside of me. One is the bad wold, full of greed and laziness, full of anger and jealousy and regret. The other is the good wolf, full of joy and compassion and willingness and a great love for the world. All the time, these wolves are fighting inside of me.” “But grandfather,” the boy said. “Which wolf will win?” The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.” Naturally most people would fight and feed the good wolf. But I would approach the situation a little differently; as characters (of my psyche) these wolves would speak to me. Should I live the life of the big bad wolf, or simply tell its story as the good wolf? How would I tell that story? What if these wolves weren’t really fighting? What if by comparison they gave each other purpose?
This brings me to my Nemesis, the character in my story I didn’t understand. I’d already created the protagonist, his story, arc and goal. I took the Humanmetrics test, answering as my hero would with ease because in my mind, I’m the hero. I knew him better than he knew himself because I had fed him regularly and his voice was more prominent. The results confirmed the kind of person I envisioned him to be, and that Humanmetrics was worth its weight in gold! I grew more excited to get to know his nemesis. I took the test, and was shocked to learn that his results were much more aligned with my own. What if I’m not the hero in my stories, but instead the bad guy?
What’s more troubling is the amount of people who regularly suggest that as a manager I need to be more of an asshole, or manipulative to my direct reports to avoid being taken advantage of and get things accomplished. It’s expected, even desperately wanted by some, which I feel is very telling. However, I believe the want is more of a reflection on the psychological expectations of others: Treat me badly and I’ll behave. Some say I need to take it further and be more nefarious in my personal life to meet my goals. Perhaps. In any event, the Big Bad Wolf is always hungry, and people demand I dress him in sheep’s clothes and feed him to join the pack.