Definition: the mindset of giving; inclination to offer help and lift another’s spirit
Characters in Literature: Diana Barry (Anne of Green Gables); Mr. & Mrs. Weasley (Harry Potter); Peeta (The Hunger Games); Juliette & Adam (Shatter Me)
Common Portrayals: Grandparents, the elderly, nurses and heath care personnel, counselors, mothers, women
Clichés to Avoid: The cookie-baking grandmother; kindness paired with ‘demure & submissive’
Twists on the Traditional Kindly Character:
- Kindness is a very likable trait, especially when it belongs to a male. Show us more kind, REALISTIC male characters (but don’t go overboard as masculinity must always factor in).
- The most powerful kindness comes when the person giving it has every right and reason not to be kind. This requires strong characterization & character motivation to make it work, but when it does? Magic.
- Kindness is often paired with ‘soft’ positive traits that are in a similar range (friendliness, generosity, caring, etc). What better way for kindness to stand out than by pulling some darker or discordant traits (such as the ones listed below?)
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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Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.