Definition: having a special magnetic charm or appeal; having the ability to arouse loyalty or enthusiasm through charm or influence
Characters in Literature and History: Aragorn (Lord of the Rings), John F. Kennedy, Adolf Hitler
Common Portrayals: politicians, prom queens, quarterbacks, visionaries, con-men, villains
Clichés to Avoid: grasping politicians with an agenda, the reluctant leader
Twists on the Traditional Charismatic Character:
▪ Charismatic characters are usually portrayed as 1) egomaniacs seeking to further their selfish goals, or 2) bleeding-heart philanthropists who live to make things better for the less fortunate. How about something in between, like a girl using her influence to raise awareness about the disease that is killing her boyfriend.
▪ Instead of someone who is reluctant or narcissistic, try an eager leader who is completely ignorant of the flaws that work against his charisma (fear of public speaking, bad breath, no fashion sense, spits when he talks).
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.