How to convey character traits through their own thoughts - Page 2


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Thread: How to convey character traits through their own thoughts

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by velo View Post
    I am pretty staunch in my view that everything should be shown to the reader and not told. If the MC is reckless, show him/her doing some reckless stuff.
    ^ That.

    The reader needs to be able to visualize what kind of person the character is. By showing through action, it paints a better picture.

    Example: In one of my short stories, I have a character who is a fighter pilot that goes into battle frequently. Aside from his job, he's a very quiet, reserved person. I have illustrated these traits by having him sit alone more often than not when he's not on duty, reading quietly with a cup of tea. As much as he loves his job, he prefers to be solitary with his thoughts. Other pilots know he's a fierce warrior when he needs to be, but have learned to give him his space away from the cockpit.

    -JJB
    ​"Strong convictions precede great actions....."

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  2. #12
    You could have the character watching someone engaged in an activity and thinking about what he would do in their place. He could also be asked for advice I and give suggestions that are riskier than those offered by someone else. What I think is key is providing the reader with a contrast of a less dangerous options for the reckless behaviour. Something isn't reckless if you have no other choice.
    K.S. Crooks- Dreamer and Author

  3. #13
    I think recklessness is an essential part of heroic characters because it represents the ability to 'throw caution to the wind'. Like the guy hanging on to the windscreen wipers of a speeding car and talking to the driver reasonably calmly. It's almost an essential element and overlaps with bravery. People who have performed brave deeds under enemy fire could be described as reckless or brave. Perhaps both.

    Maybe try to create a minor situation to show recklessness. For example- He lights a smoke using matches and he doesn't extinguish the match. Instead he drops it on the dry grass and it starts to burn toward his car. "There I go again!"

    That's a poor example, I know, but hopefully you get what I mean.

  4. #14
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Pretty much like everyone said. Show it, from his action and the way he thinks.

    Highlighting a note from this post's good point...
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    You can show a lot of character traits with just thoughts. But reckless? Isn't that a lack of thought? No one's intentionally reckless.
    obviously, you can't show it too 'intentional' either.

    Recklessness is a bad trait. It is not of an ill intention, though it may cause harm to the adopter and anyone else.

    Case example:
    - Scene: Character A is driving a car, about to take turn
    - His reckless action: he doesn't use turning signal, doesn't slow down, cutting the lanes all of sudden
    - Result of his action: the cars behind him made hard brakes, loud horns blaring at him, some cars further behind even collided
    - His thoughts/respond to it: he doesn't know what he did was dead wrong and will do it again next time. He most likely knows that is wrong if he sees it as a third person. But he wouldn't care so long he finishes his objective.
    - From reader's side: anyone who have at least learned how to drive knows that this character is a reckless driver.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    Pretty much like everyone said. Show it, from his action and the way he thinks.

    Highlighting a note from this post's good point...

    obviously, you can't show it too 'intentional' either.

    Recklessness is a bad trait. It is not of an ill intention, though it may cause harm to the adopter and anyone else.

    Case example:
    - Scene: Character A is driving a car, about to take a turn
    - His reckless action: he doesn't use a turning signal, doesn't slow down, cutting the lanes all of sudden
    - The result of his action: the cars behind him made hard brakes, loud horns blaring at him, some cars further behind even collided
    - His thoughts/respond to it: he doesn't know what he did was dead wrong and will do it again next time. He most likely knows that is wrong if he sees it as a third person. But he wouldn't care so long he finishes his objective.
    - From the reader's side: anyone who has at least learned how to drive knows that this character is a reckless driver.
    This would all be very sound advice, and the character is indeed doing reckless things. However, as you yourself point out, the things done can only be seen as reckless if the audience can gauge the risk of the action of the character.
    I am at the beginning of a story, and I fear that if I do not outline the characteristics of the character early enough it will seem odd when said characteristic comes into play. Yet at the same time, I have a ton of worldbuilding I need to convey for the actions to be entirely contextualized, and stretching that out over several chapters is one of the only ways to make it bearable, at the cost of the audience's understanding in the earliest segments.

    I think you get my predicament now.


    PS. I've made sure to incorporate some of the advice, the above-written paragraph was mostly to clarify why I chose to ask this question. Thank you all for your ideas and advice.

    I'd like to think I'm actually a nice person in real life


  6. #16
    An angry, murderous person can seem reckless if justified and take a risk if that makes sense. If to save a person's life. I saw a movie where there was a person who kidnapped someone just because he might have known information about the whereabouts of his daughter. Just because he was convinced of the man's guilt. He mutilated him by beating him.

    Look at movies for suggestions, on how to portray a character you want. It might give you an idea and is just a google search away. Then you interpret the character the way you want. (if by recollection or old memory of a movie that you can remember and that should give you some good guidance on how to depict them better. Revenge can make people reckless as well as does violence, when a person risks something such as money and fails (got this situation from some anime I liked to watch)

    Conflict is risking an action to obtain something valuable. This is how I have seen it defined by many books and makes sense to me.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Solus View Post
    I am at the beginning of a story, and I fear that if I do not outline the characteristics of the character early enough it will seem odd when said characteristic comes into play.
    For me, I want to read about what a person does, not a narrator's description. I don't even trust those to be right.

    But one of the interesting things you can do as an author is have your character behave in a surprising way (that somehow also makes sense). So -- not knowing the scene etc. making it difficult to make suggestions every reader is different but anyway -- I would probably like your character behaving recklessly. If you tell me in advance, aren't you spoiling that moment? It won't be an unfair surprise, you never told me the character was careful.
    How to write a good start: Hidden Content . Useful, original information. Long and thorough.
    Includes Hidden Content (do you start with description?), Hidden Content (a favorite with publishers apparently), starting with Hidden Content (a lost art), and more.

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