I’ve seen in circulation a list of character personality traits, that, on one side, lists strengths – what people typically consider “good” traits – and, on the other corresponding side, faults – what people typically consider “bad” traits. The interesting thing is realizing that these traits often represent the same personality quality. For example, “decisive” was on one side, but the characteristics also identified this trait as “single-minded.” “Commanding” was on one side, while “aggressive” was on the other. “Adaptable,” and “fickle.” You get the idea.
Independence is one of those traits we usually consider good in people. But, there are times when independence manifests as stubbornness. The trait itself remains the same; it’s how we deal with that trait that affects events in a story (or in our lives).
We’re all human; we all have strengths and faults. Sometimes, our strengths manifest as faults, and sometimes it’s the other way around.
Writing a bold (headstrong) yet sensitive (flighty) young woman in Fearless has made me realize all too clearly how character traits can be good, bad, and everything in between. This is especially true as she and the people around her have to deal with the conflicts that arise.
He’d thought her pretty from the start, but she was more than that. Vibrant, audacious, exciting, and adventuresome. Girlish and petulant, too, and huffy when she didn’t get her way. But, before her, he’d never thought there could be a woman so sweet and pure and brave as people had only ever been in make-believe stories.
Having the main character make these realizations has been a great joy for me, too. Because, as I look around at the people around me – even the ones I’m with every day – I’ve come to understand a bit better that everyone has multiple sides to them.
What character traits stand out to you, with your characters? Do you consider them strengths or faults?