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How to Write the INTP Nerd.

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

In my search to find a protagonist that is what Myers Briggs calls the “INTP,” I kept running into the same movies: The Matrix, Good Will Hunting, and A Beautiful Mind. It became frustrating not being able to find many INTP stories. Any stories featuring an INTP protagonist that I ran into usually were about them being a genius. INTP female protagonists were even harder to find with Alice in Wonderland, A Wrinkle in Time, and Daria being the main ones. A Wrinkle in Time is a 50 year old story and Alice and Wonderland story is over 150 years old. You may think I'm missing out on the countless other INTP characters present in our media. The key word you have to focus on is the protagonist, the Hero, the main character. If I'm wrong about not finding a good INTP story, especially a female protagonist, I would love to see some suggestions in the comment section.

It bothered me that I couldn’t find many INTP stories until I realized that A.) INTPs only account for about 3 % of the population and B.) They are a very private group of people. INTPs are kind of hard to find if you don't already know them. Yet INTJs, ENTJs, and INFJs are even less in population, but they have no problem inspiring writers placing them as the protagonist. Why do I care? I'm a writer and an INTP, and even I am not inspired to write an INTP protagonist. Because their private nature and their spark take place in the mind, it is difficult to really tell their story without it being too abstract, boring, or confusing.

The INTP trope is very easy to spot. It's your weirdo, nerdy character, or the awkward smart ass. For any character to become more dynamic, you want to put them in a situation where it’s difficult for them to thrive. Taking a character and putting them in a place where they aren’t comfortable makes for a good story. Since INTPs mostly thrive in their introverted thinking, a story surrounding their strength can work, as long as the character is developing in some way.

It's interesting that in the Matrix, Neo only thrives when he is solving the problem of the Matrix. Outside of that, he is miserable and alone.

Stories like the Matrix explore the INTP through an abstract world centering on an obsession that they want answers to, where we can truly see them at work. Without the fantasy world it's kind of hard to understand whatever they are fooling around with in their head. The Matrix is an example of how to create a world where the INTPs thinking makes sense. But what is more entertaining is getting them in a romantic situation - when the nerd gets the girl. That’s something you don't see often in entertainment other than in Anime, but that is for a different discussion.

It would be pretty simple to create a dynamic INTP character just by making them the protagonist since it's not something we see often, but how do we make it a good story?

Using Myers Briggs we can make our nerdy invisible character more seen and interesting. Keep in mind that the bookworm nerd is just a stereotype of the INTP or the logician. Taking a look at the INTP’s strengths and weaknesses will help us see what kind of person we are dealing with. We are going to use to make this nerd come alive.

Their strengths are analytical, original, open-minded, curious, and objective. Weaknesses are disconnected, insensitive, dissatisfied, impatient, and perfectionistic. Focusing on one main strength and one main weakness for the character arc will keep your story from being all over the place. It's best to use the other strengths and weaknesses in the story when it's relevant.

For this example we’ll choose original for the strength, and disconnected as the weakness. In the case of the INTP, their imaginations give them the ability to be original in their thinking; looking at things in a way that most people miss or never really consider. Yet because of how differently they think, they can be disconnected from the world around them, making it difficult to really connect with other people who can’t go deep within themselves.

When someone is coming to our protagonists for help they can be good at finding the best course of action; using logic to deal with a situation leaving the least amount of damage. Because of this, people feel drawn to them, developing a connection, seeing them as someone who truly cares and sees them. But for the INTP it could be nothing more than helping someone find the correct way of doing something and nothing more. INTPs may not realize that what they say holds a lot of weight to others. They can at times not see how someone they don’t consider a friend cares for them. Their ability to disconnect from others could be a way they cope from the disappointments of past relationships. Unless someone can deep dive into the place where the INTP loves to be, they may be able to connect with them. Throwing someone like this into a love story will for sure create a rounded character.

So let’s say the story is about an INTP who meets someone new. This new person shares a common interest and is more of an expert on the topic than the INTP is. Because of this, the INTP forms a new connection and emotions. They are so used to dismissing their own feelings easily, that they can’t quite understand what they are feeling about this new person. Everyone around the INTP notices they are acting differently. The INTP analyzes why they want to be around this new person, and recognizes the inspiration they get when they are challenged by them. Why can't they get this new person out of their mind?

Everyone around them can see what is going on, but it's the INTP who is lost. Until one day it becomes clear to them. They are in love. And they’re sick to their stomach. They realize their controlled calculated methods of self protection were somehow bypassed. And yet, they struggle with the fact that it feels good also. They have to decide to either tell that person how they feel; where they risk rejection and disappointment, or create new barriers that help them avoid their feelings all together, guaranteeing no pain.

What is life if we refuse to live? Pleasure and pain are unavoidable if you want something. And without pain, we can’t truly appreciate the pleasures we already have or could have. Why are we as humans so afraid of pain? Maybe this is the revelation the INTP has to have in order to make a move.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, but I can't accept not trying.”

-Micheal Jordan. Whether that be in love, career, or any dream.

These aren't things only INTPs struggle with, but the wisdom they naturally carry can at times hold them back from a chance of a great reward. In this case fear is masquerading as wisdom. How will you know if something is good if you never try? This is something everyone has to overcome, taking a chance on the unknown.

Good examples of INTP romances are The Female Brain, and My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected. In The Female Brain, it follows an INTP who has been hurt in the past by people. She makes it her mission to never fall in love again by using her understanding of brain chemistry to never bond with man and become weak again. My Youth Romantic Comedy follows an INTP who never allows himself to connect with anyone to protect himself from rejections because of being humiliated in the past . INTP characters may be a little difficult to write just because we aren’t used to seeing them as the protagonist, but telling a story we don't get to see too often, introduces us to new worlds and redefines who is worthy of being a main character!

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