Sourced from The Negative Trait Thesaurus
DEFINITION: Marked by unpredictable changes in mood
SIMILAR FLAWS: Capricious, erratic, mercurial, moody
Insomnia or poor sleep habits
Prolonged illness or stress
Excessive social or financial responsibilities
A mental disorder (bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, etc.)
Dysfunctional family dynamics
Being bullied or abused
Alcoholism or drug abuse
Being highly creative
Hormonal shifts (menopause, etc.)
ASSOCIATED BEHAVIORS AND ATTITUDES
Erratic mood changes
Growing angry when others voice disagreement
Having a low tolerance for the mistakes of others
Being highly opinionated
Overreacting to slights, comments, and opinions
Outbursts (shouting, laying blame, etc.)
Low-level violence (breaking objects, bumping into things and knocking them over, etc.)
Mild violence against people and animals (pushing, hitting, pulling with too much force, etc.)
Using unnecessary force (gripping someone’s wrist painfully)
Being easily provoked
Difficulty taking criticism
Blowing mistakes out of proportion
Apologizing for one’s outbursts
Poor communication when one is upset
Always having an excuse for one’s behavior
Being sensitive to specific stressors (one’s mother-in-law, a co-worker’s annoying laugh, etc.)
Using risk and danger to blow off steam
Seeing one’s opinions, needs, and feelings as being more important than others
Feeling hemmed in or trapped by responsibility
Frustration at delays or a lack of organization
Acting before thinking
Being happy one minute and depressed or cranky the next
Becoming touchy and argumentative when certain topics are broached
Taking offhanded comments as personal criticisms
Taking everything personally
Why did she make meatloaf for dinner when she knows I hate it?
I was so excited about this weekend but now Brandy’s going. She ruins everything!
I can’t believe I bruised her arm. She must have sensitive skin, because I barely touched her.
Why did he pick The Burger Joint for dinner? They’ll probably give me food poisoning.
ASSOCIATED EMOTIONS: Anger, depression, elation, excitement, happiness, overwhelmed, sadness
POSITIVE ASPECTS: This flaw breeds wariness, so others will watch their step with a moody character, often choosing to cater to their preferences. People with this flaw have high expectations and can challenge others to improve by demanding only the best from those in their charge.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS: A temperamental character can behave erratically and explosively, leaving relationship shrapnel in his wake. Friends don’t always know what will set him off, and many will avoid the character rather than deal with his outbursts. Others will placate the character in order to head off drama, thereby enabling his erratic tendencies. Those who stick around are always walking on eggshells, taking great care in what they say or do in order to avoid conflict.
EXAMPLE FROM LITERATURE: Sherlock Homes is a complex, moody character in book and film. His emotions swing quickly—first brooding and dismal, then manic in his desire to acquire knowledge and information. An abuser of both drugs and alcohol, he is an eccentric who pushes the limits, and very likely suffers from a mental disorder of some kind.
Other Examples in Literature: The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland), Tinkerbell (Peter Pan), Edward Cullen (Twilight saga)
OVERCOMING THIS TRAIT AS A MAJOR FLAW: For a character to avoid this level of emotional touchiness, he would need to examine his life and see what stressors are prompting his reactive behavior, then work at lightening the load. Yoga, meditation, and therapy all might help the character learn to better accept the world for what it is and his own place within it. Taking up a hobby that brings joy will help him find fulfillment and make him feel more centered and able to deal with what life throws his way.
TRAITS IN SUPPORTING CHARACTERS THAT MAY CAUSE CONFLICT: Abrasive, confrontational, disciplined, flaky, needy, oversensitive, tactless, volatile