Manic Pixie Dream Girl*. Unfocused. Obnoxiously in-your-face.
All stereotypical ENFP behavior.
*A Manic Pixie Dream Girl is “that bubbly, shallow… creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach brooding soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” (Nathan Rabin, film critic)
I had an ENFP acting teacher and I loved her. Here’s some things to consider when writing ENFPs (Ne, Fi, Te, Si).
This doesn’t apply to quirky, well-rounded characters. Those are awesome. But when a character’s defining characteristic is quirkiness? Boring. And obnoxious. And, sadly, probably happening to an ENxP.
ENTPs are usually nerdy-quirky, throwing in Doctor Who references and making social blunders they cover up adorably. ENFPs are more artsy-quirky, dancing in the rain and throwing glitter everywhere. But Intuition isn’t (necessarily) creativity and Fi isn’t a style. Don’t simplify ENFPs to such.
Pollyanna/Manic Pixie Dream Girl Syndrome
Pollyanna: n. an excessively or blindly optimistic person (dictionary.com)
The term came from the novel Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter, about a young girl who goes into a crabby household and makes everyone nicer (sound familiar? It’s a pretty common story line). I don’t know if Pollyanna herself is an ENFP (I’ve never read the book), but the often childlike Ne energy and Fi true-to-yourself-ness fits well in those stories. Ne energy, Fi true-to-yourself-ness… seems like a shallow interpretation of an ENFP, right? That’s what I thought, too.
That’s child ENFPs. After they grow up (late 20s/early 30s) they become the aforementioned Manic Pixie Dream Girls, existing only to help a man on his journey to embrace life (Manic Pixie Dream Guys exist, too, but they’re much more rare). This trope is irritating, not just because it’s so common, but because it makes one character’s whole reason for existence be propelling another character’s arc. They’re a prop. Characters should be people, not props.
A common stereotype is that ENFPs can’t focus or finish anything. Both my ENxP teachers (I’ve typed one as an ENTP since writing that character post) have a tendency towards rabbit trails in their discussions. My ENFP teacher is, by far, better at pulling the class back on track. Her Ne is backed by tertiary Te, which is good at organizing its environment. Remember, the tertiary function is generally well-developed in healthy individuals and goes a long way in balancing out stereotypes.
Although ENFPs may have way more fun in the brainstorming process of any project, be it teaching a class or writing a novel, their Te kicks in to power through the boring parts so they can get stuff done (and, like, hold a steady job- generally an important task).
Great ENFP Characters:
Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables; Jonathan Strange from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell; Ten from Doctor Who; John Keating from Dead Poets Society
Do you have some favorite ENFP characters?