I came across this charming graphic on Pinterest some time ago, but through all my internet searching, I could find very little information about what this means. The most I could find on the graphics origin comes from this article, which in summary says that in 2014 some writers entered their books to Lulu.com for a marketability analysis using The Book Genome Project. They received an analysis of their manuscript along with this charming, but not so informative, graphic.
Okay, so we know it was created by market research analysts, but we don’t have a key for what these terms mean. Well, dear writers, I’m going to take a stab at it.
The graphic works like the Myers-Briggs personality test, which, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, is explained here. In short, the Myers-Briggs analyzes how you interact with the world, take in information, make decisions, and how you structure those decisions. You can learn a lot about yourself from this test. Some employers even ask you take a personality test when applying for certain positions.
The writer’s personality test operates in a similar manner, matching genres and writing styles based on how you use dialogue, descriptions, prose, and pacing. You can click on the above image to enlarge it.
The original graphic lists genres after the traits. These are the types of books most marketed with that particular style of writing. In theory, it should be the genre you’ll be best at tackling, but we’ll talk about that in a bit. In the meantime, let’s go through each of the traits and talk about what they mean when it comes to your writing personality. Hopefully, you’ll learn a little bit about yourself as a writer in the process!
This aspect of your writing personality looks at not only the amount of dialogue you use, but what role your dialogue plays in your story.
Expressive (E) – expressive dialogue is important in character-driven stories. You write dialogue that not only gets the conversation moving, but reveals your characters through the subtext of the words not spoken. Your dialogue is plentiful and dynamic.
Stoic (S) – stoic dialogue functions on in a linear [noun]. You say what you mean and mean what you say. Stoic dialogue is often found in idea-driven stories or stories for young readers, since readers of those stories aren’t looking to read between the lines of your dialogue so much as they’re looking to further understand or experience the events of your plot.
This is the most subjective part of your writing personality, as the amount and type of descriptions you use transcends genres. While there are certainly preferences within genres for different levels of descriptions, don’t feel boxed in or compelled to change how you describe your world based on what you write.
Detailed (D) – detailed descriptions are important for transport fiction: stories heavily relying on readers experiencing something new and foreign, whether it’s a world, a society, or a lover. As a detailed writer, you excel at building empires and psyches in which readers can lose themselves.
Concise (C) – this is used in prose where readers already have context for the setting. Concise writers acknowledge the intelligence and experience of their audience and allow them to fill in the blanks, focusing instead on telling the story at hand. It gives an extra weight to everything you deign to mention.
The prose section talks about the length of your story. Notice that the genres listed with hefty or breezy often deal with the amount of information passed (different from how you describe it). Now, length and pacing can be related, but are not necessarily married to one another. In other words, a short book does not mean it’s a quick read, and vis versa.
The cross-over genres for this section are cooking, self-help, science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. Of all the genres, these are the most versatile when it comes to length. Just something to point out.
Hefty (H) – hefty prose deals with a lot of information and complexities, therefore requiring more space to detail it all out. As a hefty writer, you’re not afraid of the big projects. An epic fantasy or Julia-Child-inspired cookbook are right up your alley. You want a manuscript you can use as a pillow when you collapse in exhaustion after finishing it.
Breezy (B) – breezy prose is for young readers, page turners, and oral presentations. It’s essentially writing that readers want to consume in only a few hours, not a few weeks. As a breezy writer, you’re skilled at packing in a lot of information and pulling us through all the nuances of your story in a short amount of words.
By motion, I believe the graphic is talking about pacing: the progression of plot, tension, and character growth in a given story.
Patient (P) – patient motion is more conversational. There’s still rising action and tension, but the stakes are a lot lower. It’s more common in nonfiction books, but can also be found more in writing that revolves more around the exploration of an idea than solving an immediate problem. Patient writers are skilled at creating characters and relationships readers fall in love with so much, we’d read a scene of them shopping in a grocery store, just to spend time with them.
Kinetic (K) – kinetic motion is all about the rising action, big climaxes, and disastrous pitfalls. If you write kinetically, you continue to raise the stakes in your story so the reader is always wondering what’s going to happen next.
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE MY WRITING PERSONALITY?
If you don’t like it, change it! This isn’t your DNA and personal psyche, it’s how you approach your craft. You can train yourself to write in any style. It may not come naturally to yourself at first, but if you’re a SCHK and want to be a EDHK, all you have to do is focus on intentionally making your dialogue and descriptions match the genre marketability you desire.
WHAT IF MY WRITING PERSONALITY DOESN’T FIT THE LISTED GENRES?
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll notice there’s a lot of overlap in the genres. At the end of the day, how you write something isn’t as important as what you’re writing about. If you can knock out a romance as an EDHP, go for it! The listed genres are a great guide to what readers are expecting when they pick up different types of books, but the #1 rule in writing is that there are no rules! Some of the best breakout novels have been ones that find a way to do the unconventional in astonishing ways.
There you have it! I’d love to hear what you think of my explanation for the writing personalities. What’s your personality? Do the genres match? What did you learn from this?