Reading People by Anne Bogel: A Personality Handbook for Fiction Writers

I was selected as a member of the launch team for Reading People by Anne Bogel, and I was really excited to dive in. I received a free advanced copy of the book in exchange for some social media buzz and bloggy love.

Reading People by Anne Bogel is a great book for writers who want to learn about different personalities they can give their characters.

Full disclosure: I’ve never been into personality typing, and the book is basically a survey course in the subject. I’d read little things about personality types, but I never cared. In fact, in high school we had to take a personality test to determine what sort of major we should pick in college. (I think it was a cheap knock-off of the Myers-Briggs test.) The result I got was writer or teacher, which was no surprise to me then. Basically, I’m so introverted and spend so much time digging around inside my head that I always know what I want.

(I do get fairly irritated when people say they don’t know what they want, though. LIKE HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?! YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF. SIT DOWN AND FIGURE IT OUT.)

Anyway. Here I am now, working as a writer and a teacher. Thanks, cut-rate MBTI test from high school!

Did you have to take the poor man's MBTI test in high school? Click To Tweet

So all of this probably sounds like I’m the worst possible person to review Reading People.

FALSE.

Here’s the deal. As a writer, I’m enamored with different personalities. I create characters that get to play off one another, and I have to understand how different personalities can clash. (I’ve even thought about what kind of character I’d like to be in fiction!)

Have you read this one yet?  Welcome to the Perfect Storm!

Reading People by Anne Bogel

Sure, you could create a story with some tired archetypes — “I wonder how this uptight librarian might converse with a swashbuckling pirate?” While I’ve never read that particular story before, I’d really want those characters to be more than just two stereotypes. Instead, you could look to the different personality types and the tests used for quantifying them to get the most out of your characters and conflict.

And that is why I’m wholeheartedly endorsing Reading People by Anne Bogel as a writer’s field guide for creating new and different characters.

What makes Reading People different?

I took a personality psychology class in grad school, and to say it was arduous was an understatement. But I really enjoyed making my way through Reading People. Why? Well here’s the thing about Anne Bogel’s writing: It’s like watching your favorite PBS show. (If PBS were to create a show about drinking warm beverages and talking about books, I’d recommend Anne to host. PBS hasn’t contacted me to discuss this, but I thought I’d throw this out there.)

Anne is always informative AND friendly. She doesn’t talk down to you in her book or on her blog, ModernMrsDarcy.com. In fact, her style is basically like meeting with a friend for coffee and just chatting.

And the kicker here for all you bookish fiends — my homegirl doesn’t just explain the personality types using basic descriptions. She tells you which of your favorite characters fit into what types! It’s the best because not only do you start to really see what the different personality frameworks mean, but since you’ve already been in that character’s head (if you’ve read the book), you get that insight into the personality type she’s describing!

Have you read this one yet?  A Breakup Story

Reading People by Anne Bogel

Why do fiction writers need Reading People?

For me, one of the biggest things I struggle with is making my characters fully-formed humans. Sure, my protagonist is fleshed out to the max, so much so that sometimes I see them on the street when I’m walking to work. But my others characters?

Not so much.

Reading People by @AnneBogel is a good resource for creating characters! #ReadingPeopleBook Click To Tweet

Stories need characters, and those characters have to experience conflicts. And what better way to figure out how to get two characters to butt heads than by figuring out which personality types butt heads?

So in order to figure out how my protagonist would interact with others, it’s great to have access to all those personality frameworks in an enjoyable-to-read book. Also, you’d be hard-pressed to find another book that covers introversion vs. extroversion, highly sensitive people, the Five Love Languages, Keirsey’s Temperaments, the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Clifton StrengthsFinder, and the Enneagram. This book is functionally a complete survey of the topic.

For example, I’ve been working on a scene in a novel where there is a lot of tension between a two characters who obviously like each other, but struggle expressing that to the other person in a way that they other person responds to. I made one of the characters a words of affirmation love language, and the other one is a physical touch love language.

(Clearly my characters need to read this book too so we can get over the tension and just get on with the story!)

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And while this isn’t something I state in the actual text, it’s there in the planning and plotting phases to help me craft the story.

How can you get your hands on Reading People by Anne Bogel?

Reading People doesn’t come out until September 19 so you should pre-order now. If you pre-order, you get the audiobook free — read by Anne — and the online “What’s Your Reading Personality?” class.

Reading People by Anne Bogel

Have you pre-ordered your copy of #ReadingPeopleBook by @AnneBogel yet? Click To Tweet

So, tell me. What’s your favorite personality typing framework? What two personality types would you like to see in conflict in fiction? Did you also have to take the poor man’s MBTI test in high school? 

Thanks for sharing!
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6 comments

  1. Marisa, do you know this is one more glorious pillar in my big bridge to writing, which has bee manifesting lately? I love it. Can’t wait to read this. Developing characters in my head is so fun. I have a feeling I need grittier help. though.

  2. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about this book at all when I first heard about it, but you’ve sold me. It sounds like a great resource for writers!

  3. Saw this from your insta! I have stumbled upon the modern Mrs Darcy I think bc she writes about being an HSP mum- but I didn’t know about this book! Def pre ordering now!

    I’m obsessed w all manner of typing and love to work with the Enneagram the best- it’s also fascinatingly useful for character development.

    I write non fiction for the most part but typing can help there too.

    Cheers, L

    • That’s awesome! And I’m most fascinated by the Enneagram, I think because we hear about it the least. There’s a chapter in the book that covers that too!

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