Saturday, September 15, 2007

Massive list of character traits and flaws

eccentric.jpgHere's an extensive list of character traits. You can pick a couple or three to form the basis of a character. Then create a character with the opposite traits to form a friend, enemy, sibling, mentor ... ?

While there's a great deal to be said about nature forming our characters, it's a lot more interesting for a story if there's a background reason! :-) So ask yourself why the character developed those traits. What happened in the past, recent or childhood, that moved them in that direction. And perhaps they display the trait only in limited contexts. A low energy character could be forceful when the one thing he cares about is threatened. A frugal character could have a massive collection of manga. Someone could dole out their compassion just to those who are trying hard and have little sympathy for those who are letting themselves be weighed down.

Pick all from one list or all from different lists or mix them up and choose completely randomly. There are plenty of positive traits that aren't normally paired together and could make for interesting characters, for example, cultured and easy going, or inept and cocky, or feisty and dainty so it isn't necessary to mix them up.

If you love lists, there's another list: Cattell's 16 Personality Factors for writers Again, feel free to pick all "Less" or all "More" factors since shy and practical, or sensitive and lively, or competitive and solitary aren't usual combinations but could make for some nicely complex characters when you dig into their lives and figure out why they've become who they are.

Positive traits
Accommodating
Accomplished
Adaptable
Adventurous
Affectionate
Agreeable
Amusing
Appreciative
Approachable
Articulate
Artistic
Audacious
Authoritative
Bewitching
Brave
Calming
Carefree
Careful
Caring
Charismatic
Charming
Chaste
Cheerful
Classy
Compassionate
Composed
Confident
Congenial
Conscientious
Considerate
Consistent
Content
Cooperative
Courageous
Creative
Cultured
Curious
Dainty
Debonair
Decent
Determined
Dignified
Disciplined
Easy-going
Educated
Empathetic
Energetic
Enthusiastic
Exuberant
Faithful
Feisty
Flexible
Focused
Forgiving
Frank
Friendly
Frugal
Fun-loving
Funny
Gentle
Glamorous
Good-natured
Graceful
Gracious
Gregarious
Hard-working
Helpful
Honest
Honorable
Hopeful
Hospitable
Imaginative
Impeccable
Informed
Inquisitive
Insightful
Insouciant
Intellectual
Intelligent
Introspective
Intuitive
Inventive
Joyful
Kind
Knowledgeable
Logical
Lovable
Loving
Loyal
Mature
Merciful
Modest
Noble
Observant
Open-minded
Optimistic
Organized
Outgoing
Outspoken
Passionate
Patient
Perceptive
Persistent
Pert
Philanthropic
Polite
Practical
Prosaic
Quirky
Rational
Reliable
Resilient
Respectful
Responsible
Romantic
Saintly
Savvy
Selfless
Sensual
Serene
Serious
Sincere
Smart
Spiritual
Supportive
Sweet
Sympathetic
Tactful
Thoughtful
Thrifty
Tireless
Tolerant
Trusting
Unassuming
Virtuous
Vivacious
Well-groomed
Wholesome

Depends on the context whether they're positive or negative
Aggressive
Ambitious
Aristocratic
Assertive
Boisterous
Brazen
Busy
Conservative
Conventional
Daring
Delicate
Direct
Dramatic
Eccentric
Elusive
Enigmatic
Exotic
Fearless
Flamboyant
Flirtatious
Gullible
Holy
Humble
Idiosyncratic
Impulsive
Independent
Innocent
Irreverent
Liberal
Loner
Macho
Mannerly
Meticulous
Nonchalant
Nostalgic
Obedient
Obsessive
Opportunistic
Patriotic
Persuasive
Pious
Private
Proud
Quiet
Religious
Sensitive
Sentimental
Soft-spoken
Subtle
Talkative
Tough
Unconventional
Uninhibited
Unselfish
Wild
Worldly
Zany
Zealous

Generally negative descriptors, but not aspects that make you want to keep your distance
Absent-minded
Accident-prone
Aloof
Anxious
Apathetic
Apologetic
Apprehensive
Bewildered
Clumsy
Cocky
Compliant
Compulsive
Confused
Crafty
Cranky
Cunning
Cynical
Daffy
Defiant
Demanding
Detached
Disorganized
Distant
Distraught
Disagreeable
Dowdy
Downtrodden
Dull
Dumb
Emotional
Excessive
Excitable
Extravagant
Fanatical
Fatalistic
Finicky
Flippant
Flustered
Fragile
Frigid
Frustrated
Gaudy
Gloomy
Grandiose
Haggard
Hesitant
Hysterical
Ignorant
Immature
Immodest
Impatient
Impudent
Incoherent
Incompetent
Inconsiderate
Indecisive
Indifferent
Indiscreet
Inept
Infantile
Inhibited
Insecure
Insensitive
Insulting
Intimidating
Introverted
Irresponsible
Irritable
Jealous
Lazy
Lethargic
Materialistic
Melodramatic
Messy
Miserly
Moody
Naive
Neurotic
Non-committing
Opinionated
Ornery
Paranoid
Passive
Pessimistic
Petty
Presumptuous
Pretentious
Prim
Pushy
Rebellious
Reclusive
Remote
Resentful
Reserved
Righteous
Rowdy
Rude
Sarcastic
Sassy
Self-absorbed
Self-conscious
Self-effacing
Self-righteous
Senile
Shallow
Sheepish
Shy
Silent
Silly
Simple
Sloppy
Sluggish
Snobby
Spiteful
Squeamish
Stern
Stingy
Stoical
Straight-laced
Strict
Stubborn
Submissive
Surly
Suspicious
Temperamental
Tense
Tentative
Timid
Trivial
Unclean
Uncommunicative
Uneasy
Unmotivated
Unreasonable
Verbose
Vulnerable
Withdrawn

Quite negative, people you want to have as little contact with as possible
Abrasive
Angry
Annoying
Antisocial
Argumentative
Arrogant
Belligerent
Bossy
Calculating
Callous
Conceited
Condescending
Controlling
Cowardly
Critical
Crude
Deceitful
Despicable
Disgusting
Dogmatic
Domineering
Egocentric
Egotistic
Embittered
Greedy
Grotesque
Hypocritical
Intolerant
Judgmental
Lascivious
Lewd
Maniacal
Manipulative
Mean
Nasty
Obnoxious
Obscene
Overbearing
Perverted
Pompous
Profane
Promiscuous
Selfish
Sleazy
Sneaky
Unapproachable
Unscrupulous
Vain
Vindictive
Vulgar

Pretty darn evil
Abusive
Cruel
Dishonest
Hateful
Inhumane
Masochistic
Psychopathic
Psychotic
Ruthless
Sadistic
Traitorous
Tyrannical
Vengeful
Wicked
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