Definition: deviating from conventional or accepted usage or conduct, especially in odd or whimsical ways
Characters in Literature: Willy Wonka, Merlin, Miss Havisham (Great Expectations)
Common Portrayals: millionnaires, geniuses, the elderly, celebrities, the mentally-challenged
Clichés to Avoid: the gajillionnaire who does whatever he wants because his money and his lawyers will get him out of any fix, old ladies with too many cats, hermits living on the outskirts of town, the eccentric mentor archetype
Twists on the Traditional Eccentric:
▪ Eccentrics are almost always old. Why not create an eccentric child or teen with mental faculties fully intact?
▪ What about an Eccentric who is admired by society? Instead of people dismissing his oddities, they emulate them and make them part of the culture.
▪ Eccentrics in literature are often secondary characters. Why not make your main character the odd duck?
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.