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Inspiration Decks Character Traits 2023-12-02 00:00

Character Trait: Abhorrent

Character Trait Abhorrent

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait "abhorrent" refers to something or someone that is extremely repugnant or detestable. It is used to describe actions, thoughts, or behaviors that go against a person's sense of morality or decency. A character with the trait of abhorrence may be intolerant of certain ideas, behaviors, or people, and may express strong feelings of disgust or contempt towards them.

Contents:
  1. Possible causes of being abhorrent
  2. Behaviors associated with being abhorrent
  3. Attitudes associated with being abhorrent
  4. Thoughts and struggles associated with being abhorrent
  5. Emotions associated with being abhorrent
  6. Facial expressions associated with being abhorrent
  7. Body language associated with being abhorrent
  8. Behaviors associated with being abhorrent
  9. Growth and evolution of abhorrent characters
  10. Stereotypes of abhorrent characters to avoid
  11. Negatives of being abhorrent
  12. Positives of being abhorrent
  13. Verbal expressions of abhorrent characters
  14. Relationships of abhorrent characters
  15. Examples from books of characters who are abhorrent
  16. Writing exercises for writing abhorrent characters

Possible causes of being abhorrent

You might want to weave these into your character's back story to build a more believable character.

  • Negative influence from family, friends, or society
  • Traumatic experiences during childhood or early adulthood
  • Holding extreme beliefs or values
  • Lack of empathy or emotional intelligence
  • Ignorance or lack of exposure to diversity and different perspectives
  • Insecurity or low self-esteem
  • Previous experiences of rejection or betrayal
  • Mental health issues such as personality disorders or substance abuse
  • Entitlement or narcissistic tendencies

For detailed feedback on abhorrent characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's character arc evaluator.

Behaviors associated with being abhorrent

You may be able to show your character's trait of abhorrent by using these.

  • Engaging in activities that are socially unacceptable or illegal
  • Belittling or demeaning others
  • Displaying a disregard for authority or rules
  • Being aggressive or violent towards others
  • Acting in a selfish or self-serving manner
  • Showing a lack of remorse or guilt for one's actions
  • Showing a lack of empathy or consideration for others
  • Behaving in a way that is morally repugnant or detestable

Attitudes associated with being abhorrent

You may be able to show abhorrent through their attitudes.

  • Manipulativeness
  • Greediness
  • Prejudice
  • Ignorance
  • Contemptuousness
  • Entitlement
  • Ruthlessness
  • Arrogance
  • Selfishness
  • Dishonesty
  • Intolerance
  • Sadism
  • Cruelty
  • Disrespectfulness

Thoughts and struggles associated with being abhorrent

Here are some ideas for things your abhorrent character may think or struggle with.

  • A tendency to judge and criticize others harshly, often without a clear reason or justification
  • Feelings of disgust or revulsion towards certain people or things
  • A tendency to isolate themselves from others or form exclusive groups with like-minded individuals
  • Deep-rooted insecurities or traumas that fuel their abhorrent beliefs and behaviors
  • A fear of being exposed or rejected for their beliefs, leading to a defensive or aggressive attitude towards others
  • A strong desire to distance themselves from anything or anyone they deem unworthy or unclean
  • An inability to empathize with those they dislike or view as inferior
  • A constant internal conflict between their desire to maintain their abhorrent beliefs and their need for acceptance and belonging in society

Emotions associated with being abhorrent

Here are some ideas for emotions your abhorrent character may experience.

  • Contempt
  • Disdain
  • Loathing
  • Hatred
  • Disgust
  • Repugnance
  • Detestation
  • Revulsion
  • Aversion

Facial expressions associated with being abhorrent

Here are some facial expressions your abhorrent character may exhibit.

  • Baring of teeth
  • Tightened jaw and lips
  • Sneering or curling of the upper lip
  • Squinted or narrowed eyes
  • Disgusted or disdainful facial expression
  • Rolling or narrowing of the eyes
  • Raised chin or tilted head
  • Furrowed brow
  • Raised eyebrows in disbelief or scorn
  • Tense or contorted facial muscles

Body language associated with being abhorrent

Here is some body language your abhorrent character may exhibit.

  • A sneer or curled upper lip
  • Narrowed or squinting eyes
  • Making rude or dismissive gestures, like rolling their eyes or waving a hand
  • Standing too close to others, invading their personal space
  • Speaking in a harsh or biting tone, with sarcasm or cynicism
  • Leaning away from others, as if repelled by them
  • A tight or clenched jaw
  • Fidgeting or pacing, as if unable to sit still or stay focused
  • Crossed arms or legs, indicating defensiveness or aggression

For detailed feedback on abhorrent characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's character arc evaluator.

Behaviors associated with being abhorrent

Here are some behaviors your abhorrent character may exhibit.

  • Acting in a selfish or self-serving manner
  • Displaying a disregard for authority or rules
  • Showing a lack of remorse or guilt for one's actions
  • Showing a lack of empathy or consideration for others
  • Behaving in a way that is morally repugnant or detestable
  • Belittling or demeaning others
  • Being aggressive or violent towards others
  • Engaging in activities that are socially unacceptable or illegal

Growth and evolution of abhorrent characters

Here are some ways that your abhorrent character may grow and evolve over time.

  • Building new relationships and repairing damaged ones.
  • Challenging their own beliefs and biases to become a better person.
  • Developing a sense of self-awareness and understanding the root causes of their abhorrent behavior.
  • Recognizing the harm they cause to others and feeling remorseful about their actions.
  • Developing empathy towards others and understanding the impact of their actions on them.
  • Making amends and actively working towards redemption.
  • Learning from their mistakes and actively trying to change their behavior.
  • Facing the consequences of their actions and taking responsibility for them.
  • Confronting the reasons behind their abhorrent behavior and seeking help to overcome their issues.

Stereotypes of abhorrent characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical abhorrent character like these examples.

  • Avoid making the abhorrent character's motivations simplistic or solely based on a desire for power or control.
  • Avoid using mental illness as a shortcut to explain the character's abhorrent behavior without proper research and sensitivity.
  • Avoid relying on harmful stereotypes based on race, gender, sexuality, or disability to create an abhorrent character.
  • Avoid making the abhorrent character's actions gratuitously violent or graphic for shock value.
  • Avoid making the abhorrent character a one-dimensional villain with no redeeming qualities.
  • Avoid making the abhorrent character's behavior predictable or cliché, as it can make the character less interesting and compelling.

Negatives of being abhorrent

Here are some potential negatives of being abhorrent. Note: These are subjective and some might also be seen as positives depending on the context.

  • They may struggle with feelings of guilt or shame, knowing that their actions or beliefs are widely seen as wrong or immoral.
  • They may have a hard time forming meaningful relationships, since their behavior or attitudes can be off-putting or offensive to others.
  • They may struggle with self-control or impulsiveness, since they prioritize their own desires or beliefs over the needs or well-being of others.
  • They may be prone to anger or aggression, since they feel justified in their extreme views or behaviors and may lash out at anyone who challenges them.
  • Abhorrent characters may be disliked or even feared by others, which can lead to social isolation and rejection.
  • They may suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or paranoia, as they try to reconcile their own values with the judgments of society.

Positives of being abhorrent

Here are some potential positives of being abhorrent. Note: These are subjective and some might also be seen as negatives depending on the context.

  • Abhorrent characters can be relatable, as everyone has flaws and struggles with their own negative traits.
  • Abhorrent characters can be memorable and stand out in a sea of more typical characters.
  • They provide an opportunity for growth and redemption, as characters can overcome their abhorrent behavior and learn valuable lessons.
  • They can add conflict and tension, driving the plot forward and keeping readers engaged.
  • Abhorrent characters can be intriguing and complex, creating depth and nuance in a story.

Verbal expressions of abhorrent characters

Here are some potential expressions used by abhorrent characters.

  • Belittling or disrespecting others
  • Making derogatory comments about a person or group
  • Bullying or harassing someone
  • Showing a lack of empathy or compassion towards others
  • Being disrespectful of someone's beliefs or culture
  • Showing a disregard for others' safety or well-being
  • Using offensive language or slurs
  • Expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views
  • Being aggressive or violent towards others

Relationships of abhorrent characters

Here are some ways that being abhorrent could affect your character's relationships.

  • Abhorrent people may have a tendency to isolate themselves from others due to their negative traits and behaviors.
  • Abhorrent people may seek out enablers who tolerate their negative behavior and reinforce their beliefs and actions.
  • They may also attract individuals who are drawn to their charisma or power, but ultimately become disillusioned or hurt by their behavior.
  • They may have superficial or volatile relationships, as their behavior can be unpredictable and difficult to navigate.
  • Abhorrent people may also have adversarial relationships with others who oppose or challenge their negative behavior.
  • They may manipulate or exploit others for personal gain, leading to one-sided or unhealthy relationships.

Examples from books of characters who are abhorrent

  • Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
  • Dolores Umbridge from "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling
  • Count Dracula from "Dracula" by Bram Stoker
  • Iago from "Othello" by William Shakespeare
  • Humbert Humbert from "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Mr. Hyde from "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs" by Thomas Harris
  • Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Amy Dunne from "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

Writing exercises for writing abhorrent characters

Here are some writing exercises you might try for learning to write abhorrent characters.

  • Write a scene where the character reacts with anger or violence towards anyone who challenges or opposes them, even if it means hurting innocent people.
  • Write a scene where the character betrays someone close to them for selfish reasons.
  • Write a scene where the character actively seeks out ways to harm or destroy someone they perceive as a threat or obstacle to their goals.
  • Write a scene where the character witnesses an act of cruelty or injustice and does nothing to intervene, even though they have the power to do so.
  • Write a scene where the character manipulates or exploits another character's weaknesses or vulnerabilities for their own benefit.
  • Write a scene where the character revels in their own wickedness or evil deeds, taking pleasure in causing harm to others.
  • Write a scene where the character shows a complete lack of empathy or concern for the suffering of others, even if it is clear that their actions are causing harm.
  • Write a scene where the character is confronted with the consequences of their actions and shows no remorse or empathy towards those affected.
  • Write a monologue or inner dialogue where the character justifies their immoral actions to themselves, such as stealing, lying, or hurting others for personal gain.
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