Definition: difficult to understand or figure out; secretive
Characters in Literature & Pop Culture: Rick Blaine (Casablanca), The Cullens (Twilight), Jason Bourne, Aragorn (drool)
Common Portrayals: The bad boy at school; magicians and wizards; spies; aliens and paranormals; foreigners
Clichés to Avoid: tall, dark, and mysterious; the stranger with the mysterious past; the mysterious person that people are inexplicably drawn to, against their common sense.
Twists on the Traditional Mysterious Character:
▪ For some reason, most mysterious characters are men. Create a mysterious woman (with something other than sexual intrigue behind her mystery) and you’ll have something fresh and underrepresented in literature.
▪ Mysterious characters tend to appear out of seemingly nowhere with this huge question mark about their past. How about an Average Joe that comes back from a trip or school break with a new air of mystery about him?
▪ The typical mysterious character is gloomy, brooding, and dark. What about the secretive person who is an optimist, or terminally cheerful?
This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form! Together, THE NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and THE POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating unique, memorable 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.