Character Traits

by Laura
(England)

Question: Can you recommend to me an unusual as well as unexpected combination of personality traits? I am trying to find a personally trait that does not normally go with as well as seems contradictory to the character trait sensual, but I am not having any luck. However, I really desire for the character I am currently creating to embody traits as well as qualities that are unexpected. Can you help me?


Answer: Here are a few possibilities you can try...

1. Assign a contradictory trait and then find a way to write the character in a way that feels real. Most people have a few contractions within their personalities, so a little contradiction can make the character interesting. Just make sure that, when the traits come into conflict, you show how the character reconciles that inner conflict, how she chooses which impulse to follow.

2. Look for examples among real people you know, rather than models of personality traits. People are more complex and interesting than theories, which are generalizations. Perhaps base your character on two people you know.

3. Think about how the character's basic personality might have come into conflict with her experience. In other words, perhaps she started life as one type of person but has been forced to adapt to circumstances by developing a contradictory set of traits. Now both are within her.

4. Along the same lines, consider the effect of training. For instance, someone might begin with a certain personality but been taught/trained by someone else to behave differently. (E.g. a zen master, a drill sergeant, a business mentor, an abusive lover.) Sometimes conflicts with parents have similar effects.

Best of luck.

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