Definition: To be forthright, truthful, candid
Characters in Literature: Harriet in Harriet the Spy; Joachim Ziemssen in The Magic Mountain
Common Portrayals: A by-the-rules kid in the classroom; the co-worker who is always reporting going-ons to the boss out of a sense of duty; the brutally truthful wife who offers her honest opinion unsolicited to advise her husband and family friends; the sheltered teen who believes everything she’s told because of her own honest disposition.
Clichés to Avoid: Tattle-tail little brother or sisters as a plot device; the honest, trusting nature of a focal character softening the antagonist’s heart, the honest girl corrupted by a ‘bad boy’
Twists on the Traditional Honest Character:
▪ Put a character who embraces honesty into a situation where she freely chooses dishonesty for the greater good
▪ Have a character feel the effects of brutal honesty so it leads to enlightenment and self growth
▪ Give your honest character a compulsion to flout authority or break the law
Build a worthy protagonist with a mix of unique strengths that will help him overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful goals.
This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form. Together, the bestselling NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating memorable, compelling 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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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, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.