Character Trait Entry: Charismatic

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.

Love working online and having your favorite description resources in one place? We’ve got you covered. The entries from the Positive 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


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. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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Lauren F. Boyd
9 years ago

Hey, Angela! It’s great to meet you – especially as a fellow writer! Thanks so much for commenting on my blog and becoming a Follower! Your blog is great, and I look forward to coming back soon!

Thanks again!

Raquel Byrnes
9 years ago

Once I was able to stop drooling over your picture…I really learned a lot from your post. Great insight. 🙂
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Matthew MacNish
9 years ago

That is a most excellent photo selection.

9 years ago

Just catching up on reading blogs–charisma is such an interesting trait, and I find hard to get just right. But if you do it right, your character is bound to hook readers, right?
Always worth trying! And I am. 🙂

Jeff King
9 years ago

I love these character types!

Nice post.

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago


That is all.



Sharon Jones
9 years ago

Great post, as usual…
and, I agree with all of the above comments…you know, the ones drooling over Aragorn.


9 years ago


Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

Thanks so much, Deirdra! *flexes muscles* 😉

Deirdra Eden-Coppel
9 years ago

You have a fabulous blog! I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Powerful Woman Writer Award for all the hard work you do!

Go to and pick up your award.

Martha Ramirez
9 years ago

Very nice!

Deb Marshall
9 years ago

Nice. Love the conflicting characteristics….make for a very interesting hero IMO!

The Golden Eagle
9 years ago

Great post!

Interesting point about people who are charismatic–but who also have other characteristics that aren’t so appealing.

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

Mmmmm. Aragorn….

Carrie Butler
9 years ago

Great post, Becca! 🙂

Karen Lange
9 years ago

Thank you! This will come in handy. 🙂

Michael Offutt
9 years ago

A great analysis of charisma. I may shamelessly steal some of your ideas on how to break out of this box.

9 years ago

Ah Aragorn, a fine example indeed. 🙂 You made me really think about both sides of charismatic with this one!

Tiffany Garner
9 years ago

Some great thoughts here! It really is such a ‘bipolar’ characteristic, for lack of a better word. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Deb Salisbury
9 years ago

Great portrait! Definitely bookmarked. Thanks!

9 years ago

I’m sorry, Becca. Did you say something?
Must. Look. Away. From. Aragorn.

Great post! 🙂

9 years ago

LOVE the chosen picture. Such an inviting character trait to work with. Excellent post.

9 years ago

Nicely done, Becca! Great suggestions in the “Twists” segment.