I've moved to another two blogs, one on writing, and one on general stuff like this one. Please come visit! MY NEW BLOGS:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What is the Story Question?

A story, whether novel or screenplay, has two tracks that influence and guide each other:

Internal Story
External Story

The Story Question is the question asked by the External Story:

Will Van Helsing be able to destroy Dracula? (Dracula)
Will Tyler be able to find and bring back the Nazi Enigma encoder? (U571)
Will Indiana be able to find the Holy Grail? (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
Will Toula be able to get happily married? (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
Will Phil be able to break out of February 2nd? (Groundhog Day)
Will Frodo be able to destroy the Ring? (Lord of the Rings I, II, and III)
Will Luke be able to destroy the Evil Empire? (Star Wars IV, V, and VI)
Will Harry be able to destroy Voldemort? (Harry Potter series)
Will Rocky be able to *go the distance* fighting Apollo Creed? (Rocky)
Will Forrest Gump be able to convince Jenny to stay with him? (Forrest Gump)

I'm blanking on more films/novels, but you get the idea.

If a story is going to be engaging, it must have a clear-cut story question. This is the goal that the protagonist is motivated to pursue -- it is a tangible goal and something that will be answered at the end of the story with a clear Yes or No. There are sub-goals in the story, of course: for example, Frodo must get through the Dead Marshes, but these sub-goals are steps to complete the main goal.

The story goal doesn't have to be established right up front, but if not there should be another goal that's very important to the protagonist, and the story goal needs to be put in place pretty quickly. For example, in the Wizard of Oz Dorothy starts with a bridging goal: in Kansas Miss Gulch has taken Toto, and Dorothy is determined to get Toto back. She succeeds but then is quickly lifted up by the tornado into Oz where she immediately develops her Story Question: will she be able to get home?

The Story Goal should be something that your hero wants desperately, and will give maximum effort to achieve. Instead of just being blown around, he will act and cause events to occur in order to achieve this goal. He will struggle: the goal should be something very difficult that takes a great deal of courage to achieve. The story goal should have a number of obstacles, including a *chief obstacle* of some sort, often an antagonist, but it can also be a situation.

You need to make your protagonist sympathetic so the reader or viewer will care deeply about whether your hero actually achieves his goal. I'll talk about facilitating reader-identification tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Writing Vacation Today

While I'm writing today, here are some wise words, author unknown. Have a great day and see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Story Question Part One

Before I started writing fiction, I'd done a lot of nonfiction writing, especially scientific. I was surprised at how different the two forms were! The main difference I think was this:

In nonfiction writing, you need to put all the facts up front and explain things in a clear and logical progression.

In fiction writing, you must always leave at least one question unanswered.

This principle in fiction must be followed from the micro to the macro level. For example, one thing that drives me nuts and is all too common in unpubbed or self-pubbed manuscripts is reading a description that goes something like this:

Carlotta reached for the pastry and held it against her lips, then pulled it back and shook the powdered sugar off. She dusted the white dust off her black Capris where it had sprinkled. Then she took a bite, and the flaky crust was as good as it had looked. The filling was dark cherry, and its tartness contrasted perfectly with the buttery covering. "This is so good," she said, and she took another bite.

This, to me, is full of unnecessary description and no tension. Unless you need a vicarious sensation because you're on a diet, reading something like this won't do anything. This kind of writing is also characterized by calling something by several different names: for example the powdered sugar is also white dust.

OK, so how would you make a passage like this better?

My first inclination would be to cut this completely. If Carlotta really has to eat that pastry, then you've got to think of a reason why this might be a problem so that the reader wants to know if she does eat it:

she's on a diet
this is the last pastry and she wants to eat it before someone else grabs it
she hasn't eaten anything for two days and this is the only food around
she's in a cooking contest and needs to taste her competitor's wares
and so forth

Even these reasons have to link to a bigger story question: for example she MUST lose ten pounds by next Sunday or she won't get the modeling contract that will allow her access to the hallway so she can investigate Uncle Joe's untimely death. Or whatever.

Don't distract your reader with trivia. Every word should direct itself towards the story question or a sub-question (which can include character development). OK, let me take a stab a making that passage better:

Carlotta eyed the last pastry in the box, then turned to Greg sitting next to her at the conference table.

"Do you want that?" she asked.

Greg squinted. "What?"

The pastry was from that expensive bakery downstairs -- she recognized the box. They made the most delectable confections. Her stomach rumbled.

No. Their presentation was in five minutes. She imagined spraying crumbs while explaining the first graph.

She saw Pam across the table eyeing that pastry, though; she knew it would be gone...

I'm writing this late at night so this isn't great prose, but it's at least better than the first example. This section reveals some character traits and a goal that Carlotta has, as well as establishing a bit more of a setting. In the first example, anyone would have had the same sensation of tasting a pastry. In the second example, specifics are revealed through an action. The story advances.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Story Telling Basics

Story Telling Basics

This weekend I found myself up to my elbows in unpubbed hopeful manuscripts through digging through the slush pile. It's an interesting journey, but frankly I don't think I have the stamina for much more because I have other pressing things: writing my own novel, marketing Lever, and kid stuff. Template's got to be picked up again soon also. Let me just say that I have a new appreciation for editors and agents who wade through this unpubbed stuff all the time.

In my humble opinion, and recognizing that I'm not an expert (although I have wrestled mightily with writing issues), I am picking up two common problems that recur in almost all of the manuscripts I've looked through so far. They are:

1. Too much backstory!

2. The lack of a compelling story question.


These aren't surprises, I'm sure: just like knowing that if you want to lose weight, you've got to eat fewer calories than you burn. Let's talk first about backstory. I once had it explained to me that backstory is like meeting someone at a casual event where you have to chitchat. If a person comes up to you and starts telling you his life story: I was born in Arizona, my mom was a supervisor in a nursing home that was shut down after twenty-one years because of the suspicious deaths of five patients, I'm researching laws for importing Chinese kumquats and kumquats are often categorized as citrus and are grown on evergreen shrubs or short trees that produce 80 to 100 fruits each year, you'd probably start eyeing the door. (Think of Adrian Monk's annoying neighbor Kevin, who won't shut up). Similarly, in a story the reader wants to WATCH the character and make his own judgments, not be told a lot of stuff that he's not sure what parts are relevant. Why the heck should he even care? He doesn't know the characters! Pretend you're filming your story: Would your scenes show lots of flashbacks?

The second problem is a little more difficult to do well, but it's GOT to be done well if you want your story to be published (or at least traditionally published; you can publish anything yourself). You need to start by intriguing your reader with a situation or a character, and then maintain tension throughout the story. Beautiful writing is nice, but it doesn't cut it.

I have a few tricks for developing story questions, but since these each take a little explanation, let me start in on these on my next blog entry. In the meantime, keep writing :-)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yogi Berra's Commencement Address

"Thank you all for being here tonight. I know this is a busy time of year, and if you weren't here, you could probably be somewhere else. I especially want to thank the administration at St. Louis University for making this day necessary. It is an honor to receive this honorary degree.

It is wonderful to be here in St. Louis and to visit the old neighborhood. I haven't been back since the last time I was here. Everything looks the same, only different. Of course, things in the past are never as they used to be.

Before I speak, I have something I'd like to say. As you may know, I never went to college, or high school for that matter. To be honest, I'm not much of a public speaker, so I will try to keep this short as long as I can.

As I look out upon all of the young people here tonight, there are a number of words of wisdom I might depart. But I think the most irrelevant piece of advice I can pass along is this: "The most important things in life are the things that are least important.

I could have gone a number of directions in my life. Growing up on the Hill, I could have opened a restaurant or a bakery. But the more time I spent in places like that, the less time I wanted to spend there. I knew that if I wanted to play baseball, I was going to have to play baseball. My childhood friend, Joe Garagiola, also became a big-league ballpayer, as did my son, Dale. I think you'll find the similarities in our careers are quite different.

You're probably wondering, how does a kid from the Hill become a New York Yankee and get in the Hall of Fame? Well, let me tell you something, if it was easy nobody would do it. Nothing is impossible until you make it possible.

Of course, times were different. To be honest, I was born at an early age. Things are much more confiscated now. It seems like a nickel ain't worth a dime anymore. But let me tell you, if the world was perfect, it wouldn't be. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.

You'll make some wrong mistakes along the way, but only the wrong survive. Never put off until tomorrow what you can't do today. Denial isn't just a river in Europe.

Strive for success and remember you won't get what you want unless you want what you get. Some will choose a different path. If they don't want to come along, you can't stop them. Remember, none are so kind as those who will not see.

Keep the faith and follow the Commandments: Do not covet thy neighbor's wife, unless she has nothing else to wear. Treat others before you treat yourself. As Franklin Eleanor Roosevelt once said, 'The onl y thing you have to fear is beer itself.'

Hold on to your integrity, ladies and gentlemen. It's the one thing you really need to have; if you don't have it, that's why you need it. Work hard to reach your goals, and if you can't reach them, use a ladder. There may come a day when you get hurt and have to miss work. Don't worry, it won't hurt to miss work.

Over the years, I have realized that baseball is really just a menopause for life. We all have limitations, but we also know limitation is the greatest form of flattery. Beauty is in the eyes of Jim Holder.

Half the lies you hear won't be true, and half the things you say, you won't ever say.

As parents you'll want to give your children all the things you didn't have. But don't buy them an encyclopedia, make them walk to school like you did. Teach them to have respect for others, especially the police. They are not here to create disorder, they are here to preserve it.

Throughout my career, I found good things always came in pairs of three. There will be times when you are an overwhelming underdog. Give 100 percent to everything you do, and when that's not enough, give everything you have left. 'Winning isn't everything, but it's better than rheumatism.' I think Guy Lombardo said that.

Finally, dear graduates and friends, cherish this moment; it is a memory you will never forget. You have your entire future ahead of you.

"Good luck and Bob's speed."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Can Angels Sing?

We all know the Christmas carol:

Hark the Herald Angels sing "Glory to the newborn king..."

The carol comes from the passage in Luke 2:8-14:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the L-rd came upon them, and the glory of the L-rd shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


I'm making this short because it's late tonight. This question is maybe mostly for Philangelus if she decides to come by, but let me ask all of you: Can angels sing? In a larger vein, are they capable of creating things, the way that humans can? How are angels the same, and different, from us?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cutting Back

Hi everyone. I've been writing 6 blogs a week for awhile, and just feel the need to cut back so I can visit YOUR blogs, and get other writing and marketing done. I'm moving to 3 a week for awhile.

Let me throw out a question for today, though. I've been hearing from several circles that TWITTER IS THE WAY TO GO. Do you use Twitter? Is it worth the time investment, especially if you don't have a blackberry? It's interesting -- I'm thinking that a year or two ago I wouldn't have understood what I just wrote right there. Anything wrong with an old-fashioned typewriter? Can you even buy those things anymore???

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Church Bulletins

These are clips from actual church bulletins. Read this list twice -- the first time for fun, the second to figure out the errors that make the statements funny, and how you might avoid them in your own writing.


1. Don't let worry kill you -- let the church help.

2. Thursday night - Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

3. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

4. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery

5. The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David
Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

6. This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of
the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

7. Tuesday at 4:00 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving
milk will please come early.

8. Wednesday, the ladies Liturgy Society will meet. Mrs. Jones will sing,
"Put me in My Little Bed" accompanied by the pastor.

9. Thursday at 5:00 P.M. there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers
Club. All wishing to become little mothers, please see the minister in his

10. This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and
lay an egg on the alter.

11. The service will close with "Little Drops of Water." One of the ladies
will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

12. Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of
the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will
come forward and do so.

13. The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they
may be seen in the church basement Friday.

14. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music
will follow.

15. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is
Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

16. The preacher will preach his farewell message, after which the choir
will sing, "Break Forth With Joy."

17. Today...Christian Youth Fellowship House Sexuality Course, 8 p.m.
Please park in the rear parking lot for this activity.

18. During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of
hearing a good sermon when A. B. Doe supplied our pulpit.

19. The Rev. Adams spoke briefly, much to the delight of his audience.

20. The church is glad to have with us today as our guest minister the Rev.
Shirley Green who has Mrs. Green with him. After the service we request that
all remain in the sanctuary for the Hanging of the Greens.

21. The `eighth graders' will be presenting Shakespeare's "Hamlet" in the
church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend
this tragedy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Authonomy: An Author's Facebook

First, I wanted to thank you, my friends, for stopping by my blog chat on Thursday. I arrived just a few minutes before 8 EST, and although I missed some of you I was touched that you had stopped by. And for those who stayed and chatted, we had a blast! I hadn't done too much chatting before this, and found it an interesting experience. The biggest problem for me was that I typed faster than the message showed up, so that it was easy to fall into parallel conversations. What did you think?

Today I wanted to let you know about a coolio website I discovered this weekend. It's sponsored by Harper & Collins in the UK, and is basically like a big Facebook for authors.

Here's how it works:

Whether you are a writer or simply a reader, you're welcome to join in with the community. Even if you just lurk, you're welcome to view all the files on the website, although lurkers can't leave comments.

First, you create a profile. This site requests only a valid email address for personally identifiable information, although there is a place to collect birth year and address if you want to volunteer this (I never do, myself :-) You can write a little paragraph about yourself and your interests, give your website, and there is also a place to list your favorite books -- this is, after all, a book site.

Next, you can upload all or part of your manuscript. As long as you have rights to it (it's unpublished, self-published, or you have the permission of your publisher) you're OK. You must upload at least 10,000 words in order to make the manuscript *public* which means that others may comment on it. You don't have to put the whole thing on. You lose no rights; you are not obligated to Harper Collins for anything with this. You can edit it at any time, and if you remove it HC gives assurances that it's permanently deleted from the server as well. HC disables the copy text and download features, so no one can look at your book except online. I don't believe this is considered published.

Now is the fun part. The people on the site read and critique the manuscripts and compete to be the most astute identifier of good work. Manuscripts are also ranked. You can *friend* people and email them, and I'm imagining there is a lot of trading of critiques in order to get better rankings.

At the end of every month, HC takes the highest ranked 5 manuscripts and gives them to their editors to read.

HC is hoping to find good talent on this site. It's also a good deal for the writers I think: You get a lot of independent and encouraging critiques from many other writers. There seems to be a friendly atmosphere here. If you're unpublished you can improve your work before sending it out, and if you're self-pubbed you can increase the exposure of your book.

I spent some time looking through the books on the site -- it is great practice to read through people's one paragraph blurbs to see which are better, which worse, and why they work or not. You can also read chapters, but I haven't put time in for this yet. I found the site quite interesting because I've sort of gravitated to a Christian-ish pond, and this group definitely does NOT have a Christian emphasis although it doesn't seem antagonistic either. I'm sure there are a few Christian manuscripts sprinkled here and there.

The website is

If you go there, you can find me by putting *Deardon* in the search engine. Pix uploads of myself and book cover haven't been approved yet, but maybe by tomorrow.

Have an awesome day!

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Amazing Video

A friend sent this video link to me. Unfortunately I cannot embed it on this blog, but you can view it HERE

This is a surprising and inspiring clip that is a reminder (to me at least) to not assume you know everything about someone. I believe that every person has something to offer, and can do at least one thing better than anyone else. It's worth taking a little time to find out.

OK, this is a short message today. As Andra commented yesterday, I'm already busy busy busy from vacation with marketing Lever. Hmm, maybe I should ask Stephanie Meyer for some tips :-)

Hope you're all well, dear friends!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Author Chat with Me! Tonight

First, I just wanted to say thank you! for your warm wishes and welcome backs. I'm so touched. I missed all of you also :-)


The ACFW Book Club featured my first book, *A Lever Long Enough*, for its March selection. Lever is about a small military team that travels back in time to film the theft of Jesus' body from the tomb, and I like to think of it as *The Case for Christ* meets *The DaVinci Code*.

I just wanted to let you know that Melanie, Michelle, and the ACFW Book Club are kindly sponsoring an author chat with me at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. The address is HERE. You don't need to be a member of the book club in order to participate or to quietly lurk. Please come if you can; I'd love to meet you!

Also, please feel free to write to me with any questions or comments. If you're interested, I am available for blog interviews (I have a list of questions and answers, or can answer your own questions), and am happy to donate a book if you want to have a giveaway. If you've read the book and enjoyed it, please consider writing a review on amazon HERE or wherever else. I have been excited and humbled by the enthusiastic reception this book has already received.

I'm currently working on two projects. Let me preface the first one by saying in my life B.C. (before children) I was a scientist. After finishing Lever I said doggone it, there MUST be a better way to structure a story, and so undertook a year long dissection/study of about 20 novels and as many films. The result is an algorithm I've refined by coaching students that I call the Story Template: a practical guide for a writer to develop a resonant, complete, compelling story from vague ideas. It’s not a formula, more like a description of proportions and guidelines that work with any genre, since I’m a great believer in the uniqueness of each artist’s vision. A number of bloggers have asked (and received) permission to reprint my short description of story HERE, and you can see a tutorial for preliminary story organization that I’ve put on my website HERE. Yes, I'm working on the book now.

My second project is the prequel to Lever, entitled *Nest Among the Stars* from Obadiah 1:4. It follows Sara’s disaster on the space station. Here’s the one paragraph summary:

When the European Space Agency wants to partner with the United States to build a lucrative new space station balanced between the earth and the moon, the Americans invite them to join in their next mission. But the American astronauts – the commander pilot, his twin sister an astrophysicist, and a paraplegic physician – discover in space that the two European payload specialists are not who they seem to be, and at least one may be a spy intent on sabotaging the mission. With dark plans afoot, the astrophysicist makes an even more terrifying discovery: an asteroid has suddenly shifted course to directly impact the United States . There is no weapon that can deflect or destroy the asteroid except, perhaps, a strange Israeli satellite that seems to bend time and space. But using this satellite may prove to cause an even worse disaster than the one it is preventing…

I'm also planning a sequel to Lever. I have to!

My journey to faith was a difficult one, full of angst, and I am eternally grateful to G-d for setting the *Hounds of Heaven* on me. Soli Deo Gloria. May He richly bless all of you who read my words :-)



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15th

I'm back! Wow, what a liberating time to be free of the internet! It is a wonderful invention, don't get me wrong, but I had such an awesome time without the call of emails or, dare I say it, blogging. I highly recommend a net vacation for anyone who wants to clear his head.

Interesting (for me, anyway) that I come back today, April 15th, a bad day in history:

Abraham Lincoln died on this day in 1865 after being shot on Good Friday the night before by John Wilkes Booth. It was just 6 days after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. One wonders how our country's reconciliation between North and South might have gone differently if Lincoln instead of Andrew Johnson had overseen Reconstruction: Johnson weakened the fragile union by encouraging Southern rebels, denying freed slaves any rights, and breaking rich men to redistribute wealth.

The Titanic sank early in the morning on this day in 1912 after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean while steaming from Southampton England to New York City. 1517 people were lost; the Titanic carried a lifeboat capacity of less than half of its total 2223 persons on board. Only 706 people, 31.8% of the total, survived. Titanic was the most modern and luxurious ship built at the time, and was thought to be unsinkable.

And of course, today is tax day. OK, I won't go there.


No, I'm not superstitious, and I remain full of hope even on this dark day. I had a wonderful time this past week with DH and kiddos, not even touching a keyboard (although I did do a considerable amount of writing and organizing by hand in a little spiral notebook). I have a much better sense now of Nest, and am eager to dive in to rewrite and finish the manuscript. The space station research is killing me!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Web Vacation

Hi Everyone,

It's spring break for kiddos! So that we can have family time, and also so that I can do book writing this week, I'll be off the web until next Tuesday 4/14/09. I probably will not answer my email, although I may check it depending on how things go. Take care :-)


Thursday, April 2, 2009

MBTI Part Two: Four Personality Groupings

If you want to test your personality, a free and fast site is HERE


Most of the information for this post is from David Keirsey's book Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Reading the title, I question if intelligence and character go along with personality type, but that's just me. It's an interesting book albeit a little dense.

Keirsey (and others as well) propose four basic personality types based on the MBTI:

Artisan (_S_P)

Guardian (_S_J)

Idealist (_NF_)

Rational (_NT_)

The Artisans (SPs) assess the immediate environment for options and advantages, and tend to act on them quickly. They are extremely practical and like to live in the moment. They are often thought of as easy-going, impetuous, tolerant, adaptable, and artistic.

The Guardians (SJs) are serious, believing that everyone and all things should behave in a well-ordered manner. They are careful, thorough planners, very practical, and insist that things are done the *right* way.

The Idealists (NFs) are like Deanna Troy in Star Trek -- empathetic and caring, focusing on how to complete and nurture the dear ones in their circle. Conflict is deeply personal and upsetting.

The Rationals (NTs) need to find a reason for everything. They think abstractly, and are the ones who come up with stunning breakthroughs of inventions or systems as they are able to find patterns in seemingly unrelated data and ideas.


It's interesting to calculate the relative incidence of these four personality types within the population. Assume that the following proportions exist:

E:I is approximately 75% to 25%
S:N is approximately 85% to 15%
T:F for males is approximately 67% to 33%
for females is approximately 33% to 67%
J:P is approximately 50% to 50%

Then the SPs are (0.85)(0.50) = 42.5% of the general population
The SJs are (0.85)(0.50) = 42.5% of the general population
The NFs are (0.15)(0.50*) = 7.5% of the general population (approximately 2/3 of these will be women)
The NTs are (0.15)(0.50*) = 7.5% of the general population (approximately 2/3 of these will be men)

* since we're not calculating for male versus female, I'm using an even proportion of T to F that is true over the whole population

So, as you look around your roomful of friends, you've got a much better chance of bumping into an SP artisan (about 2 in 5) or SJ guardian (about 2 in 5) than an NF idealist (less than one in ten) or NT rational (less than one in ten). As someone who measures extremely intuitive, I can emphatically say that it's hard for me to understand how other people think -- I'm able to observe and predict what they will do, but it seems like I'm constantly missing things. My thoughts fly onto tangents all the time, and I often find a solution to a problem by observing something completely different that has an interesting mechanism I can apply. I think in images and ideas, and need to translate to words. However, I don't see things right in front of me; I constantly miss the obvious real-world stuff.

Personality tests try to pigeonhole unique individuals into categories, and there are always inaccuracies and approximations. Still, after some study I've decided (for whatever my opinion is worth) that the MBTI works pretty well. So, what is it like to live in your head?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Personality: Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

If you'd like to analyze your own personality, a free and fast site is HERE


There are many personality analysing tools in the world. One of the bigger ones is the MBTI that was developed during World War II by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. While no test can completely pigeonhole a unique personality into a cubbyhole, the MBTI is a respected test used to describe individual preferences and tendencies. I've had a lot of fun playing with it as I analyze self, friends, family, and characters for my stories, and find it reasonably accurate (as far as I can tell). If anyone's interested, I'm strongly I, strongly N, and straddle the T-F and the J-P axes (I test INTJ).

MBTI describes four preference-type dichotomies that each person uses. These preferences are similar to left- or right-handedness; the person uses both aspects of each preference, but one is preferred. These preference dichotomies are:

Extroverted (E) versus Introverted (I)

Sensory (S) versus Intuitive (N)

Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)

Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)


The terms are technical, and therefore not quite the same as the colloquial meanings.

Extroverted (E) / Introverted (I)

This axis describes the attitudes to outer world (people, objects) or inner world (ideas, reflection). The extroverted prefer to act, whereas the introverted prefer to reflect and withdraw. This axis doesn't reflect how social someone is, or how well they interact with people; more it's whether they'd prefer to be around action, or prefer a quiet place.

Sensory (S) / Intuitive (N)

This axis describes how information is gathered. Sensory people prefer concrete, tangible facts or data that is accessible through the five senses. In contrast, Intuitives prefer abstract or theoretical information, and easily relate it to other information, patterns, or future pathways.

Thinking (T) / Feeling (F)

This axis describes how a decision is made. The thinkers detach and use rational, reasonable, consistent rules to make a decision, whereas the feelers consider the needs of the people involved, attempt to empathize and balance to achive the best harmonic solution. A question that exemplifies this axis is: Do you prefer justice or mercy?

Judging (J) / Perceiving (P)

This axis describes, roughly, how a person relates to the outer world. Judgers tend to use their judging function (T or F), whereas perceivers tend to use their sensing function (S or N). Judgers tend to want to make a decision and move on, whereas perceivers want to keep options open.


Dominance of these four preferences is not evenly distributed, just as right- or left-handedness is not. Approximate incidence of the characteristics in USA is:

E/I -- approximately three quarters of the population are extroverts

S/N -- approximately 85% of the population are sensors

T/F -- about two-thirds of males are Ts, and about two-thirds of females are Fs

J/P -- about evenly distributed

Tomorrow I'll go over four basic personality types that can be further subdivided. Have a great day everyone!