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

Character Trait: Crazy

Character Trait Crazy

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The term "crazy" is often used colloquially to describe someone who is mentally unstable or erratic in behavior. However, when it comes to writing characters, it is important to avoid using this term as it can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and stigmatize individuals with mental health conditions. Instead, writers can focus on specific behaviors or traits that convey a sense of unpredictability or instability without resorting to harmful language. This could include things like impulsive decision-making, erratic emotions, or a lack of adherence to social norms. Ultimately, the goal should be to create a character that is complex and realistic, rather than relying on simplistic stereotypes or harmful tropes.

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

Possible causes of being crazy

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

  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • A traumatic experience in their past that has affected their mental health
  • Genetic predisposition towards mental illness
  • Environmental factors, such as growing up in a chaotic or unstable household
  • Lack of proper coping mechanisms or support systems

For detailed feedback on crazy characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's literary critique platform.

Behaviors associated with being crazy

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

  • Hallucinations or seeing/hearing things that aren't real
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Lack of personal hygiene or self-care
  • Inability to differentiate reality from fantasy
  • Disorganized speech or thoughts
  • Paranoia or delusions
  • Talking to oneself or objects that are not there
  • Extreme mood swings or emotional instability
  • Engaging in bizarre behaviors or actions

Attitudes associated with being crazy

You may be able to show crazy through their attitudes.

  • Creativity
  • Eccentricity
  • Emotional instability
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Fearlessness
  • Delusions
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Unreliability
  • Nonconformity
  • Paranoia
  • Unorthodox thinking
  • Disorganized thoughts or speech
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Unpredictability
  • Rebellion against authority
  • Intense passion
  • Hallucinations

Thoughts and struggles associated with being crazy

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

  • Chaotic thought patterns and irrational behavior
  • Inability to conform to societal norms or expectations
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Tendency to act impulsively and without regard for consequences
  • Difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy
  • Extreme emotional reactions to even minor events
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Self-destructive tendencies
  • Obsessive thoughts and behaviors
  • Paranoia and delusions

Emotions associated with being crazy

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

  • Desperation
  • Delusion
  • Mania
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucination
  • Isolation
  • Confusion
  • Frustration
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia

Facial expressions associated with being crazy

Here are some facial expressions your crazy character may exhibit.

  • Twitching or erratic movements of the face
  • A wild or unpredictable gaze
  • Laughing or crying inappropriately
  • A gaping or twisted mouth
  • A forced or overly enthusiastic smile
  • A furrowed brow or scowl
  • Talking to oneself or making nonsensical sounds
  • A blank or vacant stare
  • Wide eyes and raised eyebrows

Body language associated with being crazy

Here is some body language your crazy character may exhibit.

  • Scratching or picking at skin
  • Twitching or jerking movements
  • Pacing or fidgeting
  • Talking to oneself or to imaginary people
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Making exaggerated facial expressions
  • Wide and frantic eyes
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Speaking in a rapid or nonsensical manner
  • Unpredictable or erratic behavior
  • Laughing or crying uncontrollably

For detailed feedback on crazy characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's literary critique platform.

Behaviors associated with being crazy

Here are some behaviors your crazy character may exhibit.

  • Talking to oneself or objects that are not there
  • Extreme mood swings or emotional instability
  • Disorganized speech or thoughts
  • Paranoia or delusions
  • Hallucinations or seeing/hearing things that aren't real
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Lack of personal hygiene or self-care
  • Engaging in bizarre behaviors or actions
  • Inability to differentiate reality from fantasy

Growth and evolution of crazy characters

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

  • Finding a sense of purpose or meaning that gives them stability and direction
  • Overcoming their irrational behavior and impulses
  • Building relationships and connections with others that help them see beyond their own perspective
  • Developing a deeper understanding of their mental illness or condition
  • Learning to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively
  • Letting go of past traumas or events that contributed to their mental state
  • Learning coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms
  • Learning to trust and rely on others for support and help

Stereotypes of crazy characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical crazy character like these examples.

  • Avoid making the Crazy character's behavior solely motivated by their illness.
  • Avoid using mental illness as a plot device or to add shock value.
  • Avoid portraying the Crazy character as someone who is helpless or in need of saving by a "normal" character.
  • Avoid portraying the Crazy character as someone who is completely unpredictable and impossible to understand.
  • Avoid romanticizing or glamorizing the Crazy character's behavior.
  • Avoid portraying the Crazy character as a one-dimensional, violent lunatic.
  • Avoid using the Crazy character as a cheap source of comic relief.
  • Avoid using harmful stereotypes and derogatory language when referring to the Crazy character or their mental illness.

Negatives of being crazy

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

  • Difficulty in maintaining stable relationships with others
  • Struggles with managing emotions and coping with stress
  • Unpredictable behavior that can lead to harm to oneself or others
  • Tendency to make impulsive decisions without considering consequences
  • Potential for developing co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty in holding down a job or meeting responsibilities

Positives of being crazy

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

  • Empathy: Crazy people often have a strong sense of empathy and can relate to others on a deep emotional level.
  • Creativity and originality: Crazy people often have a unique perspective on the world and can see things in a different way than others, which can lead to creative and original ideas.
  • Passion: Crazy people tend to be passionate about their interests, which can lead to a deep level of engagement and dedication to their work or hobbies.
  • Fearlessness: Crazy people are often not afraid to take risks or try new things, which can lead to exciting experiences and opportunities.
  • Humor: Crazy people often have a great sense of humor and can make others laugh and feel good.

Verbal expressions of crazy characters

Here are some potential expressions used by crazy characters.

  • Using nonsensical or incomprehensible language
  • Repeating words or phrases obsessively
  • Talking to oneself or to imaginary people
  • Being unable to stay focused on one topic or task
  • Making bizarre or inappropriate comments
  • Using highly emotional or exaggerated language
  • Shouting or screaming for no apparent reason
  • Laughing or crying uncontrollably
  • Having delusions or hallucinations

Relationships of crazy characters

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

  • Intense emotional reactions: People with mental health conditions like borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder may have intense emotional reactions that can be difficult for others to understand or manage.
  • Need for support: Many people with mental health conditions require support from loved ones in order to manage their condition, which can create a dynamic of dependence in relationships.
  • Mood swings: Mood swings are common in many mental health conditions, and can make it difficult for others to predict or understand a person's emotional state.
  • Lack of boundaries: Some people with mental health conditions may struggle with setting boundaries or understanding appropriate social behavior, which can lead to strained relationships.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behavior can be a symptom of many mental health conditions, and can lead to risky or harmful actions that affect relationships.
  • Self-isolation: People with mental health conditions may withdraw from social situations or isolate themselves, which can strain relationships and lead to feelings of loneliness or rejection.
  • Paranoia or delusions: Certain mental health conditions can cause people to experience paranoia or delusions, which can create tension and mistrust in relationships.

Examples from books of characters who are crazy

  • Tyler Durden from "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk
  • The Mad Hatter from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
  • Ignatius J. Reilly from "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole
  • Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Randle McMurphy from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
  • Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Humbert Humbert from "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Holden Caulfield from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • Captain Ahab from "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville

Writing exercises for writing crazy characters

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

  • Experiment with different writing styles and perspectives to capture the essence of your character's "craziness." Consider writing in a stream-of-consciousness style, using fragmented sentences and unconventional grammar to convey their erratic thought patterns.
  • Start by thinking about what "crazy" means to you and how it can manifest in different ways. Is it a mental illness? A wild and unpredictable personality? A deeply held obsession or belief? Consider the different ways this trait can be portrayed in your character.
  • Try writing a character profile for your "crazy" character, detailing their backstory, motivations, and quirks. This can help you better understand their actions and reactions throughout your story.
  • Use sensory details to help readers experience your character's "craziness" firsthand. Describe how they move, speak, and interact with their environment in unusual or unpredictable ways.
  • Create conflict and tension in your story by showing how your character's "craziness" affects those around them. How do other characters react to their behavior? Are there consequences for their actions?
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