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

Character Trait: Callous

Character Trait Callous

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait Callous refers to a person who is emotionally hardened or insensitive to the suffering of others. A callous individual may lack empathy or compassion, and may be willing to act in a harsh or indifferent manner towards others without feeling remorse or guilt. This trait can manifest in a variety of ways, such as an unwillingness to help those in need, a disregard for the feelings of others, or a tendency to be cold and unfeeling in interpersonal relationships.

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

Possible causes of being callous

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

  • Lack of empathy or emotional intelligence
  • Exposure to violent or aggressive behavior
  • Insecurity or fear of vulnerability
  • Genetics or heredity factors
  • Mental health conditions such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Cultural or societal values that emphasize toughness and independence
  • Traumatic experiences in childhood or adulthood, such as abuse or neglect
  • Learned behavior from parents or role models who exhibit callous traits

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

Behaviors associated with being callous

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

  • Dismissing or belittling the opinions or concerns of others
  • Treating others as objects or tools to be used for personal gain
  • Being selfish and only thinking about oneself
  • Taking pleasure in causing harm or distress to others
  • Ignoring or disregarding the feelings of others
  • Being indifferent or insensitive to the needs and emotions of others
  • Showing little or no empathy towards others' suffering or pain

Attitudes associated with being callous

You may be able to show callous through their attitudes.

  • Self-centeredness and a focus on personal gain
  • Impatience or irritation with emotional displays from others
  • Lack of empathy towards others
  • Insensitivity to others' feelings
  • A willingness to use or manipulate others for personal benefit
  • Difficulty recognizing or admitting fault or mistakes
  • Tendency to disregard or ignore others' needs

Thoughts and struggles associated with being callous

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

  • Justification of harmful actions towards others
  • Struggle with intimacy and vulnerability
  • Tendency to focus on material or superficial aspects of life rather than emotional depth
  • Discomfort with vulnerability or emotional intimacy
  • Tendency to prioritize personal gain over the needs of others
  • Difficulty expressing emotions or showing vulnerability
  • Fear of being vulnerable and emotionally hurt
  • Tendency towards manipulation and deceit to get what they want
  • Inability to see the impact of their actions on others
  • Difficulty connecting with others on an emotional level
  • Difficulty forming meaningful relationships
  • Struggle with guilt or remorse, or a complete lack of it
  • Lack of empathy towards others

Emotions associated with being callous

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

  • Indifference
  • Cold-heartedness
  • Lack of empathy
  • Hard-heartedness
  • Ruthlessness
  • Cruelty
  • Unfeelingness
  • Insensitivity
  • Apathy

Facial expressions associated with being callous

Here are some facial expressions your callous character may exhibit.

  • A cold, distant, or detached facial expression
  • A raised eyebrow or pursed lips that convey skepticism or disapproval
  • An unsmiling or tight-lipped expression that suggests a lack of warmth or friendliness
  • Narrowed eyes or a steely gaze
  • A smirk or sneer that suggests contempt or superiority
  • An unresponsive or uninterested expression that suggests a lack of concern or care
  • A lack of emotion or empathy in the eyes or mouth

Body language associated with being callous

Here is some body language your callous character may exhibit.

  • Lack of emotional expression on the face
  • Exhibiting a lack of empathy or concern for others
  • Leaning away or physically distancing oneself from others
  • Crossing arms or legs as a sign of defensiveness
  • Using aggressive or confrontational body language, such as pointing or jabbing a finger
  • Interrupting others or speaking over them
  • Ignoring or dismissing others' feelings or concerns
  • Avoiding eye contact or looking away frequently
  • Speaking in a cold or dismissive tone

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

Behaviors associated with being callous

Here are some behaviors your callous character may exhibit.

  • Being selfish and only thinking about oneself
  • Showing little or no empathy towards others' suffering or pain
  • Taking pleasure in causing harm or distress to others
  • Ignoring or disregarding the feelings of others
  • Dismissing or belittling the opinions or concerns of others
  • Being indifferent or insensitive to the needs and emotions of others
  • Treating others as objects or tools to be used for personal gain

Growth and evolution of callous characters

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

  • Confront past trauma: The character could confront past traumas that have contributed to their callous behavior, leading to a healing and newfound emotional maturity.
  • Develop empathy: The callous character could begin to understand the emotions and experiences of others, leading to a newfound empathy.
  • Learn consequences: The character could experience negative consequences for their callous behavior, leading them to realize the impact of their actions on others.
  • Challenge beliefs: The character could be exposed to new perspectives and beliefs that challenge their callous worldview, leading them to reconsider their stance.
  • Form relationships: The character could form meaningful relationships with others, causing them to reevaluate their callousness and prioritize their connections with others.

Stereotypes of callous characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical callous character like these examples.

  • Avoid making the character one-dimensional and solely focused on their own desires and needs.
  • Avoid making the character too arrogant or narcissistic, as this can make them unrelatable to readers.
  • Avoid making the character too predictable in their actions and reactions.
  • Avoid making the character overly aggressive or violent, unless it serves a specific purpose in the story.
  • Avoid portraying the character as completely heartless and lacking any empathy or compassion.
  • Avoid making the character too emotionally detached, as readers may struggle to connect with them.

Negatives of being callous

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

  • Lack of empathy towards others
  • Being perceived as cold, distant, or uncaring
  • Difficulty in building and maintaining relationships
  • Being prone to conflict or misunderstanding in social situations
  • Difficulty in understanding the impact of one's actions on others
  • Tendency to disregard or ignore other people's feelings
  • Insensitivity towards others' pain or suffering
  • Tendency to prioritize personal gain over others' well-being
  • Inability to connect emotionally with others

Positives of being callous

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

  • Some people may find callousness to be a desirable trait in certain contexts, such as in competitive environments or in high-stress jobs where emotional resilience is important.
  • Callousness can also help individuals to remain focused on their goals and objectives, without getting sidetracked by emotional distractions.
  • Callous people are often able to make tough decisions and take difficult actions that others may shy away from, allowing them to achieve success and reach their goals.
  • Callous individuals can be highly resilient in the face of adversity, able to bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward.
  • Callous individuals are often able to maintain a certain level of emotional distance, which can be beneficial in situations where remaining objective and unemotional is important.

Verbal expressions of callous characters

Here are some potential expressions used by callous characters.

  • Insensitive remarks or comments
  • Lack of empathy towards others
  • Criticizing or blaming behavior
  • Disregard for other people's feelings
  • Harsh or brutal honesty
  • Refusal to apologize or take responsibility
  • Cold or indifferent attitude
  • Mocking or belittling language
  • Dismissive or apathetic tone

Relationships of callous characters

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

  • In romantic relationships, callous individuals may be emotionally distant, manipulative, and dismissive of their partner's feelings.
  • In professional settings, callous individuals may be seen as ruthless or cutthroat, willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead, even at the expense of others.
  • They may also be prone to exploiting others' vulnerabilities for their own benefit.
  • They may also be quick to anger or exhibit other aggressive behaviors when they feel challenged or criticized.
  • In friendships, callous individuals may be superficially charming and charismatic, but ultimately unreliable and self-serving.
  • They may view others as objects to be used for their own gain, rather than as individuals with their own feelings and needs.
  • Callous people may have difficulty forming meaningful relationships with others because they tend to lack empathy and emotional connection.

Examples from books of characters who are callous

  • Amy Dunne from "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
  • Dolores Umbridge from "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling
  • Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
  • Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Humbert Humbert from "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Tom Buchanan from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Cathy Ames from "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck
  • Regina George from "Mean Girls" by Rosalind Wiseman
  • Joffrey Baratheon from "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R.R. Martin

Writing exercises for writing callous characters

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

  • Create a backstory for the character that explains why they have become callous.
  • Show the character being indifferent or dismissive towards the feelings of others.
  • Write a scene where the character is confronted by someone about their callous behavior and how they react.
  • Write a scene where the character ignores the pleas of someone in need.
  • Create a moment of redemption for the character where they show empathy towards someone they previously ignored or hurt.
  • Write a scene where the character realizes the consequences of their callous actions and how it has affected their relationships and reputation.
  • Show the character engaging in a selfish act that harms others.
  • Write a dialogue where the character rationalizes their callous behavior.
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