Definition: An overly favorable view of oneself and one’s abilities, vanity, egotism
Characters in Literature: Malfoy in Harry Potter, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
Common Portrayals: The loud braggart, the jock who talks continually of his own contribution to the team; the coworker who believes she is the hub of the operation and shows false patience (adopting crossed arms or a fake smile, etc) as others speak or pathetically try to ‘contribute’ in some way; the professor who continually cites his degrees & books written; the socialite who name drops well-known personal connections and deliberately displays wealth to reassert importance.
Clichés to Avoid: The ‘perfect storm’ character: wealthy, beautiful and popular (& flaunts it); conceited, overbearing men who turn out to be cowards; the flashy and rude celebrity; the handsome star quarterback airbag
Twists on the Traditional Conceited Character:
- Conceited characters are often dismissed as shallow. Why not pair this negative trait with a noble goal, desire or undertaking?
- Bring about the epiphany of how this trait holds a person back by exposing your conceited character to another with the same trait.
- Show a conceited character battle this trait because of a desire to learn and grow, or connect with others in a meaningful way
This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form! Together, THE NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and THE POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating unique, memorable characters. Each entry contains possible causes for the trait, as well as positive and negative aspects, traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict, and associated behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.
Love working online and having your favorite description resources in one place? We’ve got you covered. The entries from the Negative Trait Thesaurus book have been integrated into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Now you can search and cross-reference between all our thesaurus collections quickly and easily. Interested in viewing a free sample? Register at One Stop and see all that this intuitive library for writers has to offer.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Leslie Rose says
It used to floor me how my teen daughter could be maddeningly conceited one minute, and then a puddle of insecurity the next. Love the dimensions you address in the post. Thanks.
Karen Lange says
Wonderful! I will keep this handy not just for my writing, but to ensure that I don’t become too full of myself. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Matthew MacNish says
That’s so funny you picked a photo of Brenda Song. My younger daughter loves that Zach and Cody show, but I can’t stand it!
Yes.. mister darcy.. one of my favorite characters, just because his conceited appearance clashes with his loyal and caring nature.. I guess that is what makes him an interesting character.
Christina Farley says
You brought up some interesting things. It’s true. Just because someone is conceited doesn’t mean they have to be shallow. Interesting perspective!
Another great one!
I put a link to the Bookshelf Muse in my blog today–just quoting some of your categorizing ideas.
Jan Markley says
Conceit is an interesting trait, narcissism would be interesting to explore as well.
This was such a great post! I’m reconsidering some of my characters now. Thanks!
Marion Sipe says
What a great post! I need to read more of these! 😀 They really get me thinking.
Angela Ackerman says
Thanks everyone! I have to say, this is a really fun thesaurus collection to do, and really makes me think about what a trait’s impact is on behavior.
Bethany Elizabeth says
It’s so true that 90% of the time pride is portrayed in a novel, it’s paired with some unbearable trait like cowardice or stupidity. Sometimes proud people fit a situation perfectly, sometimes they don’t, but they’re certainly not all stupid cowards. 🙂
I’m so glad to see character traits thesaurus. This takes me back to the high school days when I had to deal with conceited high school kids. I wasn’t the conceited one, though. This jogs the memory a bit. Thank you.
Lisa Gail Green says
Again, I LOVE that you give examples of what you can do to change up the cliche! 😀
Bonnie Doran says
Thanks for this blog! What a great resource for describing emotion. I was getting tired of everyone frowning.
Michelle Gregory says
so glad you’re doing this.
Susan Flett Swiderski says
Great post! Thank you. (On the other hand, egotists don’t talk about other people …) Take care.