Definition: characterized by wisdom; marked by keen understanding and discernment
Characters in Literature and Popular Culture: Yoda, Gandalf, Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web)
Common Portrayals: wizards, mentors, teachers, coaches, judges, therapists, the elderly
Clichés to Avoid: the wise hermit living on the outskirts of society because he can no longer stand to live among humans; the kindly grandfather or grandmother; the crackpot wise person
Twists on the Traditional Wise Character:
▪ Because these characters are so often right, they’re sometimes cast as being perfect and never making mistakes. Make sure your wise person has some flaws.
▪ There’s nothing more boring than a character who always makes the right decisions. To make him more likable, give your character some quirks or goofy habits. Even better, make him a person who knows the right thing to do but who struggles to do it.
▪ Wise characters are supposed to have all the answers, but part of wisdom lies i knowing when you’re out-matched. Limit your wise character’s knowledge. Don’t make him or her omniscient.
▪ Age isn’t a requirement for wisdom. To switch things up, choose a child or teen to mentor an older hero in need of guidance.
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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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.