Definition: disposed to avoid a person or thing; hesitant in committing oneself
Characters in Literature/Popular Culture: Lena (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Edward Scissorhands, Celie (The Color Purple)
Common Portrayals: the new kid at school, the shy little brother or sister
Clichés to Avoid: the wallflower at the school dance; the shy girl/boy living in the shadow of a popular and successful sibling; the socially-awkward genius
Twists on the traditional shy character:
- Shy characters are so often quiet and retiring. For a twist, give your shy character a booming voice or a terrible temper
- Villains are hardly ever shy. One who has to overcome his fears to achieve his dream of world-domination would be interesting
- Instead of your character having to overcome his shyness, let it benefit him in achieving his goals
- Make your shy character glamorous or drop-dead gorgeous instead of drab, bland, and fashionably clueless
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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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.