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

Character Trait: Conniving

Character Trait Conniving

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait "conniving" describes someone who is scheming, deceitful, and manipulative. Conniving individuals are often willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, even if it means betraying others or breaking the rules. They are skilled at hiding their true intentions and may use charm and flattery to gain the trust of others before exploiting them for their own benefit. Overall, a conniving character is someone who is not to be trusted and may be a source of conflict or danger for those around them.

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

Possible causes of being conniving

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

  • A fear of failure or loss, leading to scheming and plotting
  • Insecurity or low self-esteem leading to manipulative behavior
  • A lack of empathy or concern for others' feelings
  • A belief that the ends justify the means, leading to unethical behavior
  • A desire for power or control in a situation or relationship
  • A learned behavior from a family member or role model
  • A history of being deceived or betrayed by others

For detailed feedback on conniving characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's fictional story assessment.

Behaviors associated with being conniving

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

  • Plotting schemes or plans to achieve a desired outcome
  • Betraying others to further one's own interests
  • Taking advantage of others' weaknesses or vulnerabilities
  • Faking emotions or intentions to mislead others
  • Manipulating situations to gain an advantage
  • Using indirect or sneaky tactics to achieve goals
  • Deceiving others to achieve personal goals
  • Keeping secrets and withholding information for personal gain
  • Using flattery or charm to influence people

Attitudes associated with being conniving

You may be able to show conniving through their attitudes.

  • Insincere: Their actions and words may not align, and they may feign emotions or display false charm to gain someone's trust or support.
  • Manipulative: Conniving individuals use their wits to influence others towards a particular outcome, often by exploiting their vulnerabilities or emotions.
  • Calculating: They tend to analyze situations carefully and consider various scenarios and outcomes before taking action.
  • Self-serving: They prioritize their own interests above others and are willing to harm others to benefit themselves.
  • Deceptive: They often use lies, half-truths, or omission to mislead others and achieve their goals.
  • Untrustworthy: Due to their dishonest and manipulative tendencies, they are often seen as unreliable or untrustworthy by others.
  • Cunning: They are adept at concealing their true intentions and manipulating situations to their advantage.
  • Ruthless: They are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, even if it means causing harm or betraying others.
  • Opportunistic: They are quick to seize opportunities that will help them achieve their goals, even if it means disregarding morality or ethics.

Thoughts and struggles associated with being conniving

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

  • Anxiety about being found out and facing consequences, leading to paranoia and distrust of others
  • Willing to manipulate and deceive others to achieve their goals
  • Difficulty forming genuine connections with others, as they see them only as tools or obstacles
  • Always thinking about their own self-interests
  • Torn between their desire for power and control and their fear of being caught or exposed
  • Constantly analyzing situations and people to find ways to benefit themselves
  • Struggling with feelings of guilt and shame for their actions, but ultimately justifying them to themselves

Emotions associated with being conniving

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

  • Cunning
  • Lack of empathy
  • Greediness
  • Manipulation
  • Trickery
  • Controlling behavior
  • Sneakiness
  • Betrayal
  • Dishonesty
  • Selfishness
  • Secretive
  • Deceitfulness

Facial expressions associated with being conniving

Here are some facial expressions your conniving character may exhibit.

  • Smirking or sneering
  • Pressing lips together tightly
  • Frowning while appearing thoughtful
  • A sly, sideways glance
  • Narrowing of eyes
  • A pursed or twisted mouth
  • Raising an eyebrow
  • Tilting head to the side with a devious smile
  • A fake smile or grin that doesn't quite reach the eyes

Body language associated with being conniving

Here is some body language your conniving character may exhibit.

  • Making sudden movements or gestures to distract or deceive others
  • Tilting head or cocking it to one side while listening or speaking, as if weighing options
  • Touching or fidgeting with objects, especially if they don't belong to them
  • Smirking or smiling in a way that seems insincere or sly
  • Raising eyebrows or making exaggerated facial expressions to emphasize a point
  • Leaning in or getting physically closer while speaking
  • Crossing arms or legs defensively or in a way that appears closed off
  • Speaking in a soft, low voice or using a soothing tone to manipulate others
  • Shifty eyes or avoiding eye contact

For detailed feedback on conniving characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's fictional story assessment.

Behaviors associated with being conniving

Here are some behaviors your conniving character may exhibit.

  • Manipulating situations to gain an advantage
  • Betraying others to further one's own interests
  • Deceiving others to achieve personal goals
  • Plotting schemes or plans to achieve a desired outcome
  • Using indirect or sneaky tactics to achieve goals
  • Keeping secrets and withholding information for personal gain
  • Using flattery or charm to influence people
  • Taking advantage of others' weaknesses or vulnerabilities
  • Faking emotions or intentions to mislead others

Growth and evolution of conniving characters

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

  • Embrace vulnerability: The conniving character may begin to let down their guard and reveal their true emotions and motivations, allowing for more authentic relationships and personal growth.
  • Face consequences: As the story progresses, the conniving character may face consequences for their actions, either from other characters or from the plot itself. This can lead to a greater understanding of the impact their behavior has on themselves and others.
  • Change their goals: The conniving character may begin to question their initial motivations and goals, and develop new ones that are based on more positive and ethical principles.
  • Learn to trust: The conniving character may come to realize that their manipulative tactics are causing them to lose the trust of others, and begin to build relationships based on honesty and mutual respect.
  • Develop empathy: Over the course of the story, the conniving character may come to understand the impact their actions have on others, and begin to feel remorse or guilt for their behavior.

Stereotypes of conniving characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical conniving character like these examples.

  • Using physical appearance or disability as a shortcut to represent their conniving nature.
  • Overusing clichés such as the "evil laugh" or "twirling mustache" to signal their conniving behavior.
  • Making the character one-dimensional and solely focused on their own selfish goals.
  • Portraying them as inherently evil or villainous without any redeeming qualities or backstory.
  • Ignoring the consequences of their actions or the impact they have on other characters and the story as a whole.
  • Making them too predictable in their actions and motives, instead of adding complexity and depth to their personality.

Negatives of being conniving

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

  • Lacking empathy for others
  • Betraying trust and breaking promises
  • Being seen as untrustworthy or deceitful
  • Manipulating situations to benefit oneself
  • Feeling guilt or shame from one's actions
  • Damaging relationships and burning bridges
  • Engaging in harmful or illegal activities for personal gain

Positives of being conniving

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

  • Conniving characters are often portrayed as strategic thinkers who can anticipate the moves of their opponents and come up with clever plans to achieve their goals.
  • They are usually resourceful and adaptable, able to make the most out of any situation to their advantage.
  • Conniving characters may also be skilled at manipulation, using their wit and charm to convince others to do their bidding or to reveal important information.
  • Conniving characters can be very persuasive, convincing others to believe in their cause or to follow their lead.
  • They tend to be highly observant and detail-oriented, noticing things that others might overlook.
  • They may also possess a certain level of charisma or charm, making them likable even when they are up to no good.

Verbal expressions of conniving characters

Here are some potential expressions used by conniving characters.

  • Betraying the trust of others for personal gain
  • Playing mind games to control situations or people
  • Talking behind people's backs to stir up drama or conflict
  • Using emotional blackmail to get their way
  • Lying or deceiving others to get what they want
  • Pretending to be someone they're not to gain advantage
  • Using flattery to manipulate others
  • Blaming others for their own mistakes
  • Making promises they have no intention of keeping

Relationships of conniving characters

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

  • They may be charming and charismatic to gain trust and control over others.
  • They may use fear or intimidation to control others.
  • They may act as if they are on someone's side while secretly working against them.
  • They may exploit the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of others for their own benefit.
  • They may have a tendency to backstab or betray others to achieve their goals.
  • They may be skilled at lying or hiding their true intentions.
  • They may form alliances with others who share their goals and interests.
  • Conniving people may manipulate and deceive others to get what they want.
  • They may create conflicts or chaos to distract others from their own scheming.

Examples from books of characters who are conniving

  • Lady Macbeth from "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare
  • Francis Underwood from "House of Cards" by Michael Dobbs
  • Becky Sharp from "Vanity Fair" by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Tom Ripley from "The Talented Mr. Ripley" by Patricia Highsmith
  • Dolores Umbridge from "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling
  • Iago from "Othello" by William Shakespeare
  • Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs" by Thomas Harris
  • Count Fosco from "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins
  • Amy Dunne from "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

Writing exercises for writing conniving characters

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

  • Create a character profile for your conniving character, detailing their personality traits, motivations, and weaknesses.
  • Create a situation where your conniving character must choose between being honest or using their conniving skills to get what they want.
  • Write a scene where your conniving character manipulates someone into doing something they don't want to do.
  • Write a backstory for your conniving character that explains why they feel the need to deceive and manipulate others.
  • Write a scene where your conniving character is caught in a lie and must use their quick thinking to get out of trouble.
  • Create a dialogue between your conniving character and someone they are trying to deceive, using subtle language and body language to convey their true intentions.
  • Create a plot twist where your conniving character's manipulation backfires, causing them to lose something important to them.
  • Write a scene where your conniving character must work with someone they have betrayed in the past, and must navigate the tricky waters of trust and forgiveness.
  • Write a scene where your conniving character is challenged by someone who sees through their deception, forcing them to improvise and come up with a new plan.
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