Character Traits Thesaurus Entry: Reckless

Definition: Marked by a lack of proper caution; careless of consequences

Characters in Literature: Alaska Young (Looking for Alaska), Mr. Toad (The Wind in the Willows)

Common Characteristics: boldness, fearlessness (whether real or perceived), impulsivity, lacking common sense, needing constant stimulation, exhibiting multiple self-destructive behaviors (drugs, alcohol, driving dangerously, unsafe sex, etc), lack of respect for authority, shooting off at the mouth, stubbornness

Clichés to Avoid: the tortured reckless character with a death wish; the reckless bully, always coercing and manipulating others to join in his behavior

Twists on the Traditional Reckless Character:

▪ Because reckless characters often have a negative past event that defines their behavior, how about making a character reckless for a different reason? The reckless character whose parents were crocodile wrestlers and raised her to be adventurous and fearless. Or a nerdy reckless character who wants to be like his treasure-hunting hero in his favorite comic.

▪ Mentors are wise and usually do right by their proteges. A reckless mentor would be a hoot, in my opinion.


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.

Thesaurus Pair


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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Claire Dawn
9 years ago

As a bit of a reckless myself, I loved this post! 🙂

9 years ago

I agree! I’d love to see a reckless mentor. Great post! 🙂

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

Yay! Welcome, Miranda!

9 years ago

Great idea about turning the usual “Reckless” character into something I’ve never seen before. Oh how the wheels are now spinning…

Miranda Hardy
9 years ago

Hi Becca! It was great to meet you yesterday, and this site is great. I’ll be spending the day browsing. lol

Lisa Gail Green
9 years ago

Yup, another great one. And I love the pic. 😀

Barbara Watson
9 years ago

Reckless for a different reason – I like that. Thank you for making us think beyond….

Susan Flett Swiderski
9 years ago

Boy, you sure did nail the characteristics of a reckless person. Great job. And the idea of a reckless person also being accident-prone is downright intriguing.

Jeff King
9 years ago

Perfect… this came at the right time for me and my WIP.

9 years ago

I love your character trait posts! They always give me new ideas. Thanks!

9 years ago

I love the idea of changing a reckless character’s reason to make them unique. That is an awesome idea!

Deborah Taylor-French
9 years ago

This is perfect for a child character I’m still drawing in my novel. Ruthie is reckless, yet her very daring draws her best friend into fantastic adventures. Ruthie has been encouraged to jump in and have fun. Of course, this gets her and her friend in trouble.

Thank you for defining different reasons why a character maybe a reckless type.

Traci Kenworth
9 years ago

Oooh, I like this!! Recklessness can do so much to become a character and make them a tool to further a scene/s with him/her. They can be the catalyst for so much. You’ve got to be one of the best writer tools sites I’ve run across, and you just keep improving!! Good luck to you both on everything.