Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly book-themed discussion surrounding a question posed by Rainy Day Ramblings. This week’s question is:
What personality traits do you love/hate in a character?
The list of things I love or hate in characters isn’t definitive. Sometimes, if it’s written well, I can love characters who embody everything I hate, and vice versa. But there a few things that generally make me lean one way or another when deciding how I feel about a character.
Let’s start with those I love:
- They’re not afraid to be selfish once and a while. You know those characters, they’ve got the whole weight of the world on their shoulders and they’re constantly having to do ‘the right thing’ even if it’s detrimental to their own happiness. Every now and again, it’s nice when these characters do something just for themselves, because it’s human. Yeah, it might end badly, but that just makes it more interesting!
- They have realistic reactions. You know why Order of the Phoenix is the best Harry Potter book? (Don’t fight me on this). Because Harry is so damn angsty, and you would be too if you were 15 and going through all that he has been! Yeah, maybe it’s annoying sometimes, but at least it’s honest.
- They’re trying to be better. Every character should have flaws of some kind, but I love when characters who have messed up are actively trying to improve themselves or make up for what they’ve done. It makes me root for them so hard.
Now a few things that will instantly put me off a character:
- Arrogance. Arrogance is fine in characters that are supposed to be the bad guys. In fact, it probably endears me to them more. Think Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series. But in characters I’m supposed to like, it’s hugely off-putting. I feel like a lot of male romantic leads that are supposed to be confident, and therefore attractive, just come across as arrogant, which in turn makes me look at the protagonist that’s desperately crushing on them like, ‘Him? Really?’
- They only exist only in relation to another character. I find this happens a lot with secondary characters involved in a romantic storyline with the protagonist. Their entire personality, or lack thereof, will revolve around their love for the other character. They’re given little to no background story, the reader is told basically nothing about them other than that they love this main character. It’s so boring, unrealistic, and makes for a really bland relationship.
- They are all flaws, or no flaws at all. This is similar to the above – it’s not realistic. People are multidimensional! Who knew! I hate when a villain is completely evil with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This ties into those villains that just do evil things with no other motivation than that they’re a bad person. I want to know why.
I kind of sense a theme here – realism. I like my characters to act like real people do!