Character Entry Trait: Calm

Definitionfree from agitation or disturbance; composed; level-headed

Characters in LiteratureLegolas, Spock, Nick Andros (The Stand), Yoda

Common Portrayals: parents and grandparents, religious figures, mentors, immortals

Clichés to Avoid the wise mentor who shows no emotion, no matter how desperate the scenario; the martyr who calmly and serenely faces his own death; the calm character who never makes a mistake

Twists on the Traditional Calm Character: 

  • Emotionally, your character might be even-keeled, but he can be weak in other areas. Give him an achilles heel or crazy quirk to make him more interesting.

  • Because calm character are somewhat boring, they aren’t usually cast as heroes. But what if calmness is a fault that has to be overcome? What if the calm demeanor is a deep-seated survival technique that must be broken down so the hero can experience real emotion? 

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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Christine Rains
8 years ago

Oh, I love your ideas on how to twist this trait. It is difficult to write an interesting calm protagonist, but I do like a challenge!

The Golden Eagle
8 years ago

Those are great ideas on how to twist a calm character!

8 years ago

This is a great article. It’s rare to see a writing post on the calm personality trait and ideas on how to make them come alive as characters. Thanks!

Jemi Fraser
8 years ago

Great examples – Spock, Legoas & Yoda are all so different, yet they do all represent calm so well! 🙂

8 years ago

I’ve had an epiphany about a character I’m developing while reading this one. Love it when that happens. Thank you SO much!

Charity Bradford
8 years ago

Thanks to Angela and Becca for all of their hard work!

Spock has always been one of my favorite characters of ALL time.