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

Character Trait: Contentious

Character Trait Contentious

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait contentious refers to a person who is argumentative, prone to controversy, and enjoys engaging in disputes or disagreements. A contentious individual often challenges others, questions their ideas, and may be confrontational in their communication style. It is important to note that being contentious does not necessarily mean a person is aggressive or hostile, but rather that they are more likely to challenge others and seek out debates.

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

Possible causes of being contentious

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

  • Having had a history of being ignored or dismissed, leading to a need to assert oneself to be heard.
  • Growing up in an environment where arguments were common and accepted as a form of communication.
  • Struggling with anxiety or insecurity, leading to a defensive or combative stance.
  • Possessing a strong sense of individuality and a need to express oneself, even if it leads to conflict.
  • Being raised in a culture or community where direct communication and confrontation are valued.
  • Having a naturally assertive or competitive personality.
  • Experiencing a trauma or injustice that sparked a strong need for justice or fairness.
  • Being exposed to a lot of negative news or media, leading to a general sense of distrust or skepticism.

For detailed feedback on contentious characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's story developmental critique.

Behaviors associated with being contentious

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

  • Arguing or disagreeing with others frequently
  • Being critical or skeptical of ideas and opinions
  • Challenging authority or established norms
  • Refusing to accept something without evidence or proof
  • Standing up for oneself or others in a contentious situation
  • Being confrontational or aggressive in debates or disagreements
  • Displaying a persistent or stubborn attitude towards a particular issue or stance
  • Debating or engaging in intellectual discussions

Attitudes associated with being contentious

You may be able to show contentious through their attitudes.

  • Quick to criticize and point out flaws
  • Tendency to be confrontational or aggressive
  • Stubbornness and resistance to change
  • Opinionated and argumentative
  • Strongly motivated by a desire to prove oneself or be right
  • Often seen as difficult or challenging to work with
  • May struggle with compromise or collaboration

Thoughts and struggles associated with being contentious

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

  • A contentious character often finds themselves in conflict with others, as they have a tendency to argue and disagree with people.
  • This can lead to them feeling isolated and alone, as they may struggle to maintain close relationships with others.
  • They may have trouble letting go of grudges and may hold onto past conflicts and grievances, which can contribute to their contentious nature.
  • They may also struggle with self-doubt and insecurity, as their contentious nature can lead them to question whether they are doing the right thing or whether they are pushing people away.
  • Internally, they may struggle with feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment towards others who they feel have wronged them or who they disagree with.
  • They may have a strong sense of justice and believe that they are fighting for what is right, even if it means causing conflict.

Emotions associated with being contentious

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

  • Belligerence
  • Defensiveness
  • Stubbornness
  • Truculence
  • Pugnacity
  • Quarrelsomeness
  • Argumentativeness
  • Hostility
  • Aggressiveness

Facial expressions associated with being contentious

Here are some facial expressions your contentious character may exhibit.

  • Clenched jaw
  • Narrowed eyes
  • Tight-lipped smile
  • Frowning or scowling
  • Raised eyebrows
  • Sneering or curling the lip
  • Squinting or staring intently

Body language associated with being contentious

Here is some body language your contentious character may exhibit.

  • Clenched jaw or teeth grinding
  • Sighing or heavy breathing
  • Crossing arms tightly across the chest
  • Tense posture, with shoulders raised and neck muscles tight
  • Frequent eye-rolling or rolling of the head
  • Pacing or fidgeting with objects
  • Tightening or flexing of hands and fingers
  • Pointing or jabbing fingers to emphasize points
  • Interrupting others or speaking in a loud and aggressive tone

For detailed feedback on contentious characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's story developmental critique.

Behaviors associated with being contentious

Here are some behaviors your contentious character may exhibit.

  • Standing up for oneself or others in a contentious situation
  • Being confrontational or aggressive in debates or disagreements
  • Debating or engaging in intellectual discussions
  • Displaying a persistent or stubborn attitude towards a particular issue or stance
  • Challenging authority or established norms
  • Arguing or disagreeing with others frequently
  • Refusing to accept something without evidence or proof
  • Being critical or skeptical of ideas and opinions

Growth and evolution of contentious characters

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

  • Understanding the importance of compromise
  • Becoming less confrontational and more diplomatic
  • Developing empathy for those they disagree with
  • Learning to express their opinions in a respectful and constructive manner
  • Finding common ground with others
  • Becoming more open-minded and willing to consider alternative viewpoints
  • Learning to listen to others' perspectives
  • Realizing the value of teamwork and collaboration
  • Acknowledging their own faults and biases

Stereotypes of contentious characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical contentious character like these examples.

  • Avoid making the character too stubborn or inflexible, unable to compromise or see other points of view.
  • Avoid making the character lack empathy or consideration for others' feelings and perspectives.
  • Avoid making the character always disagree with others, even on minor or insignificant matters.
  • Avoid making the character seem irrational or illogical in their arguments or beliefs.
  • Avoid making the character overly aggressive or hostile towards others.
  • Avoid making the character constantly argumentative or confrontational for no reason.

Negatives of being contentious

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

  • Difficult to work with or collaborate with
  • Creates unnecessary conflict and arguments
  • Can make it challenging to resolve conflicts peacefully
  • Can damage personal and professional relationships
  • May be perceived as stubborn or unyielding
  • May struggle to compromise or see other perspectives
  • Can cause stress and tension in social settings
  • Can be seen as aggressive or confrontational

Positives of being contentious

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

  • Being contentious can help individuals stand up for what they believe in and advocate for themselves and others.
  • It can encourage critical thinking and questioning of authority or the status quo.
  • Contentious individuals may be more likely to seek out and engage in meaningful discussions and debates, leading to increased intellectual growth and understanding.
  • They may have a strong sense of justice and fairness, and work towards creating positive change in society.

Verbal expressions of contentious characters

Here are some potential expressions used by contentious characters.

  • Using sarcasm or mocking language
  • Interrupting others frequently
  • Refusing to compromise or consider alternative perspectives
  • Challenging others' viewpoints aggressively
  • Being overly critical or nitpicky
  • Being defensive or combative when criticized
  • Engaging in arguments or debates often
  • Making personal attacks or insulting others

Relationships of contentious characters

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

  • They may also be perceived as confrontational or aggressive in their communication style.
  • Contentious people may struggle with trusting others, and may be quick to assume the worst in people or situations.
  • They may have a tendency to criticize or find fault in others' actions or decisions.
  • They may have a tendency to hold grudges or dwell on past conflicts.
  • They may have difficulty maintaining positive relationships or forming close bonds with others due to their combative nature.
  • Contentious people may often engage in arguments or debates with others, even over small or insignificant matters.
  • Contentious individuals may struggle with accepting differing viewpoints or compromise.

Examples from books of characters who are contentious

  • Severus Snape from the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling
  • Tyler Durden from "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Lisbeth Salander from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson
  • Holden Caulfield from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • Sherlock Holmes from the "Sherlock Holmes" series by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Randle McMurphy from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
  • Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs" by Thomas Harris
  • Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
  • Jay Gatsby from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Writing exercises for writing contentious characters

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

  • Write a scene where your character is in a situation where they are forced to compromise their beliefs, and explore their internal struggle.
  • Place your character in a situation where they are forced to defend their beliefs to someone with authority or power over them.
  • Have your character express their differing opinion in a group setting, and write how they react to any pushback they receive.
  • Write a scene where your character's contentious nature causes them to lose a friend or loved one, and explore their emotions and reactions to this loss.
  • Write a monologue from your contentious character's perspective, detailing why they hold their beliefs so strongly.
  • Create a character who has opposing beliefs to your contentious character, and write a dialogue between them.
  • Write a scene where your character is engaged in a heated argument with someone they disagree with.
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