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

Character Trait: Challenging

Character Trait Challenging

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait challenging refers to a personality that is not afraid to question the status quo, push boundaries, and take risks. People with this trait often have a strong sense of independence and a desire for self-improvement. They may challenge themselves and others to think outside the box and pursue unconventional ideas. Challenging characters can be both admirable and frustrating, as they may inspire others to strive for greatness while also causing conflict and resistance.

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

Possible causes of being challenging

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

  • Genetics: some people may have a predisposition towards certain personality traits, including those that are considered challenging.
  • Personal beliefs or values: some people may hold beliefs or values that make it difficult for them to get along with others, such as a strong sense of entitlement or a lack of empathy.
  • Childhood experiences: past traumas or negative experiences can shape someone's personality and cause them to develop a challenging nature.
  • Environmental factors: social or cultural influences, such as growing up in a high-stress environment or being exposed to negative role models, can contribute to a challenging personality.
  • Mental health: certain mental health conditions, such as borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder, can cause challenging behaviors.

For detailed feedback on challenging characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's plot analysis software.

Behaviors associated with being challenging

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

  • Advocating for change or innovation
  • Taking risks and pushing boundaries
  • Rejecting conformity or groupthink
  • Standing up for oneself or others in the face of opposition
  • Questioning authority or the status quo
  • Embracing difficult or complex tasks
  • Persisting in the face of obstacles or setbacks
  • Engaging in healthy debate or constructive criticism
  • Refusing to settle for mediocrity

Attitudes associated with being challenging

You may be able to show challenging through their attitudes.

  • Perseverant
  • Risk-taking
  • Goal-oriented
  • Innovative
  • Self-disciplined
  • Assertive
  • Persistent
  • Ambitious
  • Confident
  • Competitive
  • Resilient
  • Resourceful
  • Independent

Thoughts and struggles associated with being challenging

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

  • They may be driven by a desire for control and struggle with relinquishing that control to others
  • A challenging character may often feel like they don't fit in or belong, causing them to push people away or be confrontational
  • They may have a strong sense of independence and be resistant to authority or rules
  • They may have a competitive nature and feel the need to prove themselves to others
  • They may feel misunderstood or judged by others, leading to feelings of resentment or anger
  • They may have a fear of vulnerability and be hesitant to open up or share their true feelings
  • They may have a tendency to be defensive or argumentative, even in situations where it's not necessary
  • They may struggle with trust issues and have difficulty forming close relationships

Emotions associated with being challenging

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

  • Contradictory
  • Stubborn
  • Resistant
  • Obstinate
  • Argumentative
  • Rebellious
  • Nonconformist
  • Uncooperative
  • Controversial
  • Assertive
  • Aggressive
  • Unyielding
  • Disobedient
  • Competitive
  • Defiant

Facial expressions associated with being challenging

Here are some facial expressions your challenging character may exhibit.

  • A raised eyebrow or furrowed brow
  • A sneer or snarl
  • A tight or pressed together mouth
  • A piercing or intense gaze
  • A scowl or frown
  • A jutting or squared jawline
  • A smirk or half-smile
  • Squinted or narrowed eyes
  • A tilted or cocked head

Body language associated with being challenging

Here is some body language your challenging character may exhibit.

  • Clenched jaw or tight lips
  • Standing with hands on hips
  • Pointing or gesturing aggressively
  • Frowning or scowling
  • Squinting or staring intently
  • Leaning back in a chair
  • Crossing arms or legs
  • Tapping fingers or feet
  • Narrowing eyes or furrowing eyebrows

For detailed feedback on challenging characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's plot analysis software.

Behaviors associated with being challenging

Here are some behaviors your challenging character may exhibit.

  • Refusing to settle for mediocrity
  • Embracing difficult or complex tasks
  • Advocating for change or innovation
  • Standing up for oneself or others in the face of opposition
  • Rejecting conformity or groupthink
  • Persisting in the face of obstacles or setbacks
  • Taking risks and pushing boundaries
  • Engaging in healthy debate or constructive criticism
  • Questioning authority or the status quo

Growth and evolution of challenging characters

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

  • Discovering a new purpose or meaning in life
  • Developing new skills or abilities
  • Developing empathy and understanding for others
  • Learning to trust and rely on others
  • Overcoming their fears and insecurities
  • Becoming more self-aware and introspective
  • Letting go of past traumas and moving forward
  • Facing difficult decisions and taking responsibility for their actions
  • Learning to communicate more effectively

Stereotypes of challenging characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical challenging character like these examples.

  • Avoid portraying challenging characters as solely "villains" or "antagonists"
  • Avoid using challenging traits as a plot device or to create conflict without exploring the character's motivations and perspective
  • Avoid making challenging characters one-dimensional or solely defined by their trait
  • Avoid relying on harmful stereotypes or assumptions about individuals with challenging traits

Negatives of being challenging

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

  • Can come across as confrontational or argumentative
  • Could be seen as difficult to work with or hostile
  • May struggle with authority figures or rules they disagree with
  • May struggle to compromise or see others' perspectives

Positives of being challenging

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

  • They can be resilient and adaptable, able to handle unexpected situations and overcome difficulties.
  • They can be confident and assertive, able to stand up for themselves and their beliefs.
  • Challenging characters may be willing to take risks and try new things, which can lead to innovation and growth.
  • Challenging characters can be inspiring to others, pushing them to work harder and strive for their own goals.
  • They can be highly competitive and driven to excel, which can make them successful in their endeavors.
  • They can be tenacious and persistent, refusing to give up even when faced with obstacles or setbacks.
  • Challenging characters are often independent and self-sufficient, able to take care of themselves and rely on their own resources.
  • Challenging characters are often driven and motivated to achieve their goals, which can make them compelling and interesting to read about.

Verbal expressions of challenging characters

Here are some potential expressions used by challenging characters.

  • Being critical or skeptical
  • Pushing back against authority
  • Asking tough questions
  • Disagreeing with others
  • Refusing to back down
  • Standing up for one's beliefs
  • Asserting oneself confidently
  • Questioning the status quo
  • Challenging assumptions or norms

Relationships of challenging characters

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

  • They may come across as critical or judgmental, often pointing out flaws or weaknesses in others.
  • They may have a tendency to dominate conversations or situations, making it difficult for others to share their perspectives or ideas.
  • Challenging people may struggle with authority figures or rules, pushing back against regulations or guidelines they disagree with.
  • Challenging people tend to be confrontational and argumentative, often seeking out debates and disagreements.

Examples from books of characters who are challenging

  • Holden Caulfield from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs" by Thomas Harris
  • Randle McMurphy from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
  • Ignatius J. Reilly from "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole
  • Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Captain Ahab from "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville
  • Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
  • Jay Gatsby from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Lisbeth Salander from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

Writing exercises for writing challenging characters

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

  • Write a scene where your character challenges someone in authority, such as a boss or teacher.
  • Write a scene where your character faces criticism or rejection but continues to pursue their goals despite the negative feedback.
  • Have your character take charge of a situation and rally others to their cause, demonstrating their leadership skills.
  • Write a scene where your character stands up for what they believe in, even if it goes against popular opinion.
  • Write a scene where your character takes a risk, even if it means putting themselves in danger.
  • Have your character take on a difficult task, even if they don't believe they can complete it. Show their determination to succeed.
  • Have your character face an obstacle or setback and refuse to give up, even when it seems impossible to overcome.
  • Have your character question the status quo or challenge societal norms.
  • Write a scene where your character refuses to back down from a conflict, even if it means facing consequences.
  • Have your character confront their fears and push themselves out of their comfort zone.

I hope these exercises and prompts help you develop challenging characters that are dynamic and engaging!

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