|Photo credit: Angela Ackerman|
Remember when I raved about the incredible writing tool that is The Emotion Thesaurus? Well, I asked the wonderful Angela Ackerman (co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus and one of the lovely bloggers behind The Bookshelf Muse) if she’d be willing to share a guest post here, and she graciously accepted. Even better—she offered to share with us a sneak preview of one of the two new books she and Becca will be releasing shortly. Enjoy!
Hi Ava—thank you for the invite! Becca and I are so happy to show a glimpse of our new baby, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes. This book is built to help writers during the brainstorming stage of character creation, encouraging a deeper understanding of personality attributes so they can build interesting, layered characters!
The bulk of the book consists of entries like the one below (courageous), designed to put writers deeper into the heads of their characters so they can better understand what makes them tick. It also explores how to hook readers through likable character traits, the role positive attributes play in character arc, and how the right attributes contribute to self-growth, strengthening the protagonist so that he can defeat opposition and achieve his goals.
DEFINITION: possessing the mental or moral resilience to face opposition, danger, or difficulties despite one’s fear
CATEGORIES: achievement, interactive, moral
SIMILAR ATTRIBUTES: brave, dauntless, heroic, valiant
The desire to honor role models by living up to their moral standard and/or sacrifice
The belief that one must not let fear stand in the way of what is right
Wanting to protect others from harm or suffering
Having a strong moral code
Believing one person can make a difference and the future is determined by one’s actions
Doing what is right instead of what is easy
Facing danger, uncertainty, or hardship with strength
Being strong for others
Standing up for those who are not equipped to stand up for themselves
Stepping up when leadership is needed
Facing fear to achieve a goal
Understanding one’s shortcomings
Enduring pain or suffering with a show of strength
Telling the truth when it’s important
Speaking up when others stay silent
Facing the unknown
Showing compassion and empathy for others
Putting oneself in danger so others will be safe
Following one’s beliefs even when it’s dangerous to do so
Living one’s life according to one’s beliefs
Having a strong sense of one’s purpose
Believing in justice and equality
Having a strong mental focus when it’s needed
Having high stamina and perseverance
Accepting responsibility for one’s actions
Being willing to step outside of one’s comfort zone
Giving someone a second chance, or asking for a second chance
Not being defeated by rejection or failure
Having strong convictions
Knowing when to speak and when to stay silent
Being in control of one’s emotions
Putting others before oneself
Focusing on the end goal; not allowing oneself to be sidetracked
Knowing what one believes and not allowing others to sway those beliefs
Resiliency; the ability to keep trying even after multiple failures
Jon’s going to be devastated. But the news should come from me, not a stranger.
Mom and Dad might be disappointed, but this is something I need to do.
Mrs. Bloom shouldn’t treat Marc differently than me. I’m going to talk to her.
This isn’t exactly safe, but Rick’s sister is in there and someone’s got to get her out.
That kid is struggling in the current. I need to get out there now!
ASSOCIATED EMOTIONS: determination, guilt, resignation, somberness, wariness, worry
POSITIVE ASPECTS: Courageous characters will make up for what is lacking in any circumstance. After reflection or a moral assessment, they will step up, no matter the odds, because they know that it’s the right thing to do. People who show courage have a core of inner strength and a strong moral compass. They’re willing to put the welfare of others first when it counts most. They feel fear, but can master it, and do not allow it to alter their decisions. Characters who are courageous lead by example, even if they are unsuited to a task. Others are inspired by their courage and often strive to honor it by showing courage themselves.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS: Courage, while commendable, is not always smart. Characters with this trait sometimes don’t see beyond the immediate situation to the long-term impacts of a choice or action. When pausing to think might be the best course of action, courageous characters can be impulsive and respond emotionally, letting their desire to act override wisdom.
EXAMPLE FROM LITERATURE: Frodo, the simple hobbit from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is the least suited for a dangerous mission against a deadly, powerful foe. Yet his willingness to set forth provides an incredible lesson in courage. Lacking the strength of humans, the battle training of dwarves, and the magic of wizards, Frodo makes his way to Mount Doom to destroy the one ring before it can send Middle Earth into darkness. His fortitude and strength comes from within, and despite his fear, he ultimately saves the world. Other Examples from Literature and Film: Harry Potter (Harry Potter franchise), Herman Boone (Remember the Titans)
TRAITS IN SUPPORTING CHARACTERS THAT MAY CAUSE CONFLICT: gullible, manipulative, reckless, self-destructive, selfish, timid, violent, weak-willed
CHALLENGING SCENARIOS FOR THE COURAGEOUS CHARACTER:
Facing a situation where one has failed in the past
Dealing with a phobia
Having to choose between doing what’s right and doing what’s popular
Facing a decision that will mean life or death for someone else
Showing courage despite a hardship, disability, or great personal cost
One of the most enjoyable parts of writing is brainstorming our characters, deciding who they will become. Understanding who they are at their very core is so important because just like us, their personality is a filter for all their actions, decisions and choices. There is literally no end to the number of unique, complex characters a writer can create!
For more information on this book, or it’s evil twin, The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws, you can visit our blog, or their new home on Goodreads: Flaw Book & Positive Attribute Book. Born together, these two books will also be released together on October 21st.
Don’t they sound amazing? I, for one, will be picking up a copy of each when they’re released. Thanks for stopping by, Angela!
Did you enjoy @AngelaAckerman & @beccapuglisi's EMOTION THESAURUS? Get a sneak peek of the next books. (Click to tweet)
Looking for writing tools? Check out a sneak peek of soon-to-be-released THE POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS. (Click to tweet)