Character Trait Entry: Independent

Definition: not requiring or relying on others

Characters in Literature: Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), Laura Ingalls Wilder, Han Solo

Common Portrayals: women suffragettes, Civil rights leaders, inventors, explorers, geniuses

Clichés to Avoid: the independent, strong-willed, kick-butt woman who doesn’t need a man in her life; the loner who claims to need no one, but by the end of the story realizes his need for intimacy with others

Twists on the Traditional Independent Character: 

▪ Give your independent character the confidence to stand alone, but provide him with a core group of friends/allies whose support and feedback only strengthen him (think William Wallace).

▪ Rather than making a character independent by nature, what if independence is a trait he must choose in order to meet his goals?

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.

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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.
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Kelly Polark
9 years ago

Ahhh, I love Han Solo.

Great character trait to feature!

Carrie Butler
9 years ago

Oo, I love the idea of independence being a trait the character must choose. Great job, Becca! 🙂

Shannon O'Donnell
9 years ago

Great post, and Han Solo is perfect! Sometimes, I think it’s easy to forget about the negatives. I love that you included some–and they are spot on! 🙂

9 years ago

Oooh, I am LOVING this series. This is so resourceful. Thanks so much for providing these!

9 years ago

This post was right on cue for me today, since my story character is an independent kick ass female. I just don’t want her to come off as cliche, so I’m trying to think of good twists for her personality. Oh, and thanks for the Han Solo pic. Made my day!

Alex J. Cavanaugh
9 years ago

You just described the main character of my two books to a T!

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

So happy you found us, Lisa! And Susan, you’re absolutely right. That’s another solid cause for a person’s independence.

Michael Offutt
9 years ago

Oh Harrison was so handsome and young in that photo. Age takes us all down…Cowboys and Aliens…meh.

I love the breakdown here on independent characters. Great post.

Sharon K. Mayhew
9 years ago

Fantastic description of an independent character/person. It really made me think.

Tara Tyler
9 years ago

awesome complete definition & workup of this character trait! and han solo is the MAN!

Lisa Alber
9 years ago

Becca, I just now discovered this site–love it! I still have “Bookstack” bookmarked on my blog, but I’ll bookmark this one, too–as soon as I can. Doing NaNo and it’s kicking my butt; hoping to get in a few blog posts this month, though, hopefully.

Actually, this post is apt. I’m wrestling with an independent type of guy for my NaNo WIP. It is hard to get away from the cliches, isn’t it? Though, I did have him befriend a quirky teenage girl early on…:-)

Happy Saturday, Lisa

Susan Flett Swiderski
9 years ago

A person can also be independent as a means of self-protection. If he doesn’t count on anyone else’s support, he won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t come.

Traci Kenworth
9 years ago

Oooh, love Han Solo. His character
was so complex, so different from
Luke(though my heart still belonged
to Luke), Han intrigued me. I think
it was all that sparring he did with
Princess Leia and everyone else. Lol.
But you knew, down deep, you could
count on him to back his friends. Laura Ingalls Wilder is another favorite. I learned to be strong and
independent from her and that I could face any storm. You’re right, it is best to put independents with a core group of characters, it brings out the heart in them.