Character Trait Entry: Generous

Definition:  liberal in giving; bighearted

Characters in Literature: Santa Claus; Geppetto (Pinocchio); Fezziwig (A Christmas Carol)

Common Portrayals: The kindly grandmother, the neighbor who provides for everyone on her street, the wealthy philanthropist, church pastors & ladies’ groups; charitable organizations (the salvation army, etc)

Clichés to Avoid:  Having a ‘heart of gold’

Twists on the Traditional Generous Character:  

  • An interesting bit of conflict with generous people is when they feel pulled in separate directions by opposing needs. Put your generous character in a position where they must choose who to help, and that inner turmoil at feeling that they are letting down the other party.
  • Generous people have dreams and desires too. What happens when a dream conflicts with the needs of others? Does your generous character sacrifice the dream for the greater good, or for once, choose self-fulfillment?
  • Consider an environment where a generous person is continually taken advantage of. How does it affect them–do they bend, or break?

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, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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12 Responses to Character Trait Entry: Generous

  1. Hi there, I saw that you were one of the top ten blogs for writers for 2011/2012 ( Good job! I noticed, however that you do not have a logo for your blog. I am a graphic artist, if you are interested visit my website

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  2. Mary Witzl says:

    I know someone who is so generous that I could show up at her house, unannounced, with half a dozen hungry strangers with muddy boots — and she’d hurry off to the kitchen to cook us a whopping big meal. I’ve modeled a character in my WiP after her, and she’s HARD WORK to get right because she’s so implausible. I’ve had to make her bossy and a bit insensitive just to make her more believable. I like the idea of making a generous person choose to add tension to the conflict and improve the narrative.

  3. Tell the truth, you saved this one for Xmas, didn’t you?? Santa is too perfect…

  4. We believe so, Clarissa. Not positive, since we’re still working through the details. But I have a Kindle myself, so I’d like to see it in Kindle format.

  5. Question for you: When you publish this thesaurus, will it be available for Kindle?

  6. What a great character to have around!! Though you’re right, they could get taken advantage of easily. Thanks for the great entry, as always!!

  7. Arlee Bird says:

    Tis the season ho,ho,ho.

    Personally I’ve grown a bit jaded, but I still tend to be an easy mark. You really covered this sort of character in this post.

    Journaling Woman at my memoir blog
    starting Saturday 12/17/2011 with a special giveaway!
    Wrote By Rote

  8. Thanks everyone! I had to make sure Santa was represented this month, right? 🙂

    I know what you mean, The Golden Eagle. It makes me sad for humanity when someone intent on doing good is taken for a ride.

  9. Reading about generous characters sometimes saddens me; particularly in stories where they’ve been taken advantage of, when they’re just trying to help.

    It’s a great character trait to explore, though. 🙂

  10. Jemi Fraser says:

    Perfect choice! Of course 🙂

  11. Great choice, Ange. Feeling quite festive as I head out to Al’s work party, though not exactly generous. Al refuses to let me buy anything for the White Elephant exchange. Instead, he scrounged some old crap from the garage.


  12. Ooh I could write a novel in these comments. I wish the world would read this. Great stuff!

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