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.
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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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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.
Lisa Gail Green says
Tell the truth, you saved this one for Xmas, didn’t you?? Santa is too perfect…
Becca Puglisi says
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.
Clarissa Draper says
Question for you: When you publish this thesaurus, will it be available for Kindle?
Traci Kenworth says
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!!
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.
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Angela Ackerman says
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.
The Golden Eagle says
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. 🙂
Jemi Fraser says
Perfect choice! Of course 🙂
Becca Puglisi says
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.
Ooh I could write a novel in these comments. I wish the world would read this. Great stuff!