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Inspiration Decks Character Traits 2023-12-06 00:00

Character Trait: Despicable

Character Trait Despicable

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait "despicable" refers to someone who is extremely unpleasant, contemptible, or morally reprehensible. A despicable character may engage in actions that are cruel, dishonest, selfish, or unethical, causing harm to others for their own benefit or enjoyment. They often lack empathy or a sense of responsibility for their actions, and their behavior may be driven by greed, jealousy, or a desire for power. Creating a despicable character can add depth and conflict to a story, as readers will be invested in seeing justice served or the character redeemed.

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

Possible causes of being despicable

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

  • Traumatic events that shaped their outlook on life
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Mental health disorders such as sociopathy or psychopathy
  • Lack of empathy or emotional intelligence
  • Narcissistic tendencies
  • Childhood experiences of neglect or abuse
  • Entitlement or power-seeking behavior
  • Learned behavior from negative role models

Behaviors associated with being despicable

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

  • Betraying the trust of friends and loved ones
  • Bullying or intimidating others
  • Taking advantage of vulnerable individuals or groups
  • Showing a lack of empathy or compassion for others
  • Engaging in criminal or immoral behavior
  • Acting in a cruel or sadistic manner towards others
  • Lying and deceiving others for personal gain
  • Being selfish and prioritizing one's own interests over others'
  • Manipulating and controlling others

Attitudes associated with being despicable

You may be able to show despicable through their attitudes.

  • A lack of empathy or concern for others
  • Disrespect for authority or social norms
  • Greed and a desire for power or control
  • Cruelty and a willingness to cause harm
  • Manipulativeness and a tendency to use others for personal gain
  • A lack of remorse or guilt for one's actions
  • Selfishness and a focus on personal gain
  • Arrogance and a sense of superiority over others
  • Dishonesty and deceitfulness

Thoughts and struggles associated with being despicable

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

  • Struggling with self-doubt and insecurity, despite outward confidence
  • Struggling with a lack of empathy and emotional detachment
  • Constantly seeking power and control over others
  • Manipulating and deceiving others to get what they want
  • Feeling entitled and superior to those around them
  • Fearing vulnerability and weakness, and projecting a tough exterior
  • Justifying their actions and behaviors to themselves
  • Feeling paranoid and mistrustful of others, always looking for potential threats
  • Feeling a sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction even when they achieve their goals

Emotions associated with being despicable

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

  • Revulsion
  • Loathing
  • Hatred
  • Malice
  • Disgust
  • Scorn
  • Disdain
  • Contempt
  • Malevolence

Facial expressions associated with being despicable

Here are some facial expressions your despicable character may exhibit.

  • Smirking
  • Scowling
  • Rolling eyes
  • Narrowing eyes
  • Raising eyebrows in a mocking way
  • Curling lips
  • Sneering
  • Twitching nose in disgust
  • Frowning with disapproval

Body language associated with being despicable

Here is some body language your despicable character may exhibit.

  • Puffing up the chest or standing tall to appear dominant or aggressive
  • Pointing or wagging a finger in a threatening or condescending manner
  • Leaning in too close to intimidate or invade personal space
  • Crossing arms or legs as a way of creating a barrier or showing defensiveness
  • Frowning or scowling
  • Narrowed eyes
  • Sneering or curling of the lip
  • Clenched jaw or teeth grinding
  • Raised eyebrows in a mocking or sarcastic way

Behaviors associated with being despicable

Here are some behaviors your despicable character may exhibit.

  • Lying and deceiving others for personal gain
  • Engaging in criminal or immoral behavior
  • Bullying or intimidating others
  • Acting in a cruel or sadistic manner towards others
  • Showing a lack of empathy or compassion for others
  • Manipulating and controlling others
  • Taking advantage of vulnerable individuals or groups
  • Being selfish and prioritizing one's own interests over others'
  • Betraying the trust of friends and loved ones

Growth and evolution of despicable characters

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

  • Begin to question their own actions and motives
  • Take responsibility for their actions
  • Develop a sense of humility and recognize their own flaws
  • Start to show empathy towards others
  • Develop a conscience and moral compass
  • Learn to trust others and form genuine relationships
  • Show vulnerability and allow themselves to be emotionally affected
  • Demonstrate remorse for past wrongdoings
  • Display selflessness and put others' needs before their own

Stereotypes of despicable characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical despicable character like these examples.

  • Avoid making the character too predictable or cliché, as this can make them boring and unengaging
  • Avoid making the character one-dimensional or stereotypical (e.g. the greedy businessman or the abusive parent)
  • Avoid making the character overly violent or sadistic, as this can be gratuitous and off-putting to readers
  • Avoid making the character too perfect or flawless, as this can make them unrelatable and unrealistic
  • Avoid making the character purely evil without any understandable motivations or depth

Negatives of being despicable

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

  • Being perceived as selfish or cruel
  • Feeling guilt or remorse for actions taken
  • Being disliked or even hated by others
  • Potential legal consequences for unethical or criminal behavior
  • Difficulty forming meaningful relationships
  • Lack of trust and respect from others
  • Risk of being ostracized or isolated from society
  • Difficulty finding employment or advancing in a career

Positives of being despicable

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

  • They can serve as a foil to other characters, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Despicable characters are often more memorable and intriguing than those who are completely virtuous.
  • Despicable characters can create tension and conflict in a plot, making the story more engaging.
  • Despicable characters can be a vehicle for exploring complex themes and issues in a story.
  • Their negative traits can be used to highlight the importance of positive traits and values.
  • They can provide a unique perspective and challenge conventional morality in a story.

Verbal expressions of despicable characters

Here are some potential expressions used by despicable characters.

  • Ignoring or disregarding the feelings and needs of others
  • Refusing to take responsibility for one's actions
  • Gossiping or spreading rumors about others
  • Mocking or ridiculing others
  • Insulting or belittling others
  • Blaming others for one's own mistakes
  • Manipulating or deceiving others for personal gain
  • Being rude or dismissive towards others
  • Using derogatory language or slurs

Relationships of despicable characters

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

  • Inability to form genuine connections with others
  • Refusing to take responsibility for their actions
  • Lack of empathy towards others
  • Treating others as inferior or disposable
  • Manipulative behavior to get what they want
  • Tendency to exploit and take advantage of others
  • Blaming others for their own mistakes or shortcomings
  • Using aggression or intimidation to control others
  • Betraying trust or breaking promises for personal gain

Examples from books of characters who are despicable

  • Iago from "Othello" by William Shakespeare
  • Sauron from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Voldemort from the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling
  • Big Brother from "1984" by George Orwell
  • Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
  • Humbert Humbert from "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs" by Thomas Harris
  • Cathy Ames from "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck

Writing exercises for writing despicable characters

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

  • Explore the character's backstory: Consider how your character's past experiences may have shaped their despicable traits. Write a scene that explores their backstory and shows how they developed these traits.
  • Show, don't tell: Instead of telling the reader that your character is despicable, show their actions and behavior. For example, have them cheat or lie to get what they want, or mistreat someone who is vulnerable.
  • Create a moral dilemma: Put your character in a situation where they have to choose between doing the right thing or acting on their despicable impulses. This can create tension and make your character more complex.
  • Use dialogue to reveal character: Write a scene where your despicable character is interacting with another character. Use dialogue to reveal their true nature, such as through manipulative language or cruel remarks.
  • Write from a different perspective: Write a scene from the perspective of a character who is affected by your despicable character's actions. This can help you see your character's traits from a different angle and make them more believable.
  • Use contrast: Create a contrast between your despicable character and other characters who are more virtuous. This can highlight your character's negative traits and make them stand out even more.
  • Start with a character profile: Create a detailed profile of your character, including their background, personality traits, and motivations. Focus on traits that could be seen as despicable, such as greed, selfishness, or cruelty.
  • Use symbolism: Use symbolism to reinforce your character's despicable traits. For example, have them wear all black or have a pet snake.
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