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

Character Trait: Anxious

Character Trait Anxious

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. Anxious is a character trait that describes a person who is worried, nervous, or uneasy about something that may happen or is happening in the present or future. An anxious character may have trouble controlling their thoughts and emotions, and may also exhibit physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, or rapid heartbeat. This trait can be both helpful and hindering for a character, depending on how it is portrayed and used in the story.

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

Possible causes of being anxious

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

  • Chronic stress or exposure to high-pressure environments
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Negative thought patterns or cognitive biases
  • Environmental factors, such as a lack of social support or a chaotic home life
  • Medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or heart disease
  • Trauma or stressful life events, such as abuse, neglect, or a major loss
  • Genetics or family history of anxiety disorders

For detailed feedback on anxious characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's narrative quality assessment.

Behaviors associated with being anxious

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

  • Overthinking or obsessing over small details
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, or rapid heart rate
  • Being easily startled or feeling on edge
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Seeking reassurance from others frequently
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing
  • Avoiding certain situations or people
  • Difficulty relaxing or feeling restless
  • Constant worrying or fearing the worst

Attitudes associated with being anxious

You may be able to show anxious through their attitudes.

  • Feeling tense and uneasy
  • Avoiding certain situations or activities
  • Overthinking and worrying about things
  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed
  • Being self-critical or perfectionistic
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, or rapid heartbeat

Thoughts and struggles associated with being anxious

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

  • Overthinking and second-guessing decisions
  • Feeling overwhelmed and easily stressed
  • Feeling like they are always on edge and unable to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Negative self-talk and low self-esteem
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath
  • Avoiding certain situations or people that trigger their anxiety
  • Seeking reassurance or validation from others
  • Constant worry and fear about the future
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep due to racing thoughts

Emotions associated with being anxious

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

  • Nervousness
  • Fear
  • Tension
  • Worry
  • Overwhelm
  • Unease
  • Panic
  • Apprehension
  • Insecurity

Facial expressions associated with being anxious

Here are some facial expressions your anxious character may exhibit.

  • Biting nails or lips
  • Twitching or trembling
  • Scratching or rubbing skin
  • Furrowed brows
  • Wide eyes or staring
  • Sweating
  • Clenched jaw
  • Pursed lips
  • Fidgeting or tapping
  • Rapid breathing or panting

Body language associated with being anxious

Here is some body language your anxious character may exhibit.

  • Sweating or shaking
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Avoiding eye contact or staring blankly
  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilating
  • Clenched jaw or grinding teeth
  • Fidgeting, such as tapping fingers or feet
  • Looking around nervously or scanning the environment repeatedly
  • Tightly crossed arms or legs
  • Biting nails or lips

For detailed feedback on anxious characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's narrative quality assessment.

Behaviors associated with being anxious

Here are some behaviors your anxious character may exhibit.

  • Being easily startled or feeling on edge
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, or rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty relaxing or feeling restless
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Constant worrying or fearing the worst
  • Avoiding certain situations or people
  • Overthinking or obsessing over small details
  • Seeking reassurance from others frequently

Growth and evolution of anxious characters

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

  • Pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and facing their fears
  • Finding meaning and purpose in their struggles and using them to help others
  • Developing coping mechanisms to deal with their anxiety
  • Developing a greater sense of self-awareness and empathy for others
  • Learning to recognize and manage their triggers
  • Learning to live in the present moment and not worry about the future or past
  • Accepting their anxiety as a part of themselves and learning to live with it
  • Challenging their negative self-talk and beliefs
  • Building a support system of friends, family, or professionals

Stereotypes of anxious characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical anxious character like these examples.

  • Making the character the victim of their anxiety, rather than showing them as actively coping with it
  • Making the character a social recluse or someone who avoids people altogether
  • Stereotyping the character as a hypochondriac or germaphobe
  • Giving the character unrealistic or exaggerated fears or phobias
  • Portraying the character as weak or helpless
  • Making the character constantly nervous or jittery
  • Portraying the character as someone who always needs to be rescued or saved by others
  • Depicting the character as overly emotional or prone to panic attacks

Negatives of being anxious

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

  • Constant worry and fear about everyday situations
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, or heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Difficulty making decisions or taking action
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Self-doubt and negative self-talk
  • Avoidance of social situations or activities

Positives of being anxious

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

  • Heightened awareness and sensitivity to surroundings and others' emotions
  • A strong desire to improve oneself and seek personal growth
  • An ability to anticipate potential issues and avoid risks
  • A deep sense of empathy and understanding of others' struggles
  • Strong attention to detail and a focus on accuracy
  • Proactive approach to problem-solving and planning
  • Increased creativity and imagination

Verbal expressions of anxious characters

Here are some potential expressions used by anxious characters.

  • Using filler words such as "um," "like," or "you know"
  • Rapid speech or talking too much
  • Asking repetitive or unnecessary questions
  • Repeating oneself
  • Seeking reassurance or validation from others
  • Apologizing excessively
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Nervous laughter or giggling
  • Fidgeting or restlessness
  • Over-explaining or over-justifying actions
  • Saying "I'm sorry" or "Excuse me" frequently
  • Stuttering or stumbling over words

Relationships of anxious characters

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

  • Anxious people may have a tendency to overthink and catastrophize situations, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts with others.
  • Anxious individuals may have a fear of abandonment, leading them to cling onto relationships and become overly jealous or possessive.
  • Anxious individuals may be sensitive to criticism and rejection, leading them to become defensive or avoidant in social situations.
  • They may have difficulty trusting others, which can lead to a pattern of suspicion and doubt in relationships.
  • They may have a tendency to seek constant reassurance from others, leading to a cycle of anxiety and self-doubt.
  • They may struggle with setting boundaries and saying no, leading to feelings of being taken advantage of or overwhelmed.
  • Anxious people may have a tendency to be overly dependent on others for reassurance and validation.
  • They may struggle with expressing their emotions and needs, leading to frustration and misunderstandings in relationships.

Examples from books of characters who are anxious

  • Donnie Darko from "Donnie Darko" by Richard Kelly
  • Winston Smith from "1984" by George Orwell
  • Holden Caulfield from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • Elizabeth Bennet from "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
  • Ophelia from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare
  • Esther Greenwood from "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath
  • Hazel Grace Lancaster from "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green
  • Katniss Everdeen from "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
  • Charlie from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky

Writing exercises for writing anxious characters

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

  • Write from their perspective: Try writing scenes from your character's perspective, focusing on their thoughts and feelings. This will help you get inside their head and understand how their anxiety affects them.
  • Show the impact on relationships: Explore how your character's anxiety affects their relationships with others, such as avoiding social situations or lashing out at loved ones. This will add depth to your character and show the impact of their anxiety on their life.
  • Incorporate anxious behaviors: Think about how your character's anxiety manifests in their behavior. Do they fidget, avoid eye contact, or obsessively check their phone? Incorporate these behaviors into your writing to show the character's anxiety.
  • Create tense situations: Write scenes that put your character in tense situations, such as public speaking or meeting new people. This will help you show how their anxiety affects their behavior and thoughts.
  • Use physical descriptions: Show your character's anxiety through physical descriptions, such as sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, or shallow breathing. This will help readers understand the character's emotional state without telling them outright.
  • Start with a character profile: Create a detailed profile of your character with anxiety, including their background, fears, and triggers. This will help you understand their motivations and reactions.
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