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.
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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.