Character Study Part 1

Character Study Part 1: Our True Selves

Characterization is something I thought I had figured out. I’m quickly finding out how untrue that is.

One of my characters is a bit contradictory. I attempted to write someone that portrayed strength on the outside but was a mess on the inside.

We’re all a little like that aren’t we? Don’t most people wear a facade to some extent? A social mask hiding our true feelings and true thoughts, at least with strangers.

Shouldn’t our characters have some mystery too? Especially if we want to avoid cookie cutter characters that lack depth.

I’m asking for your help. Enlighten me to your true self. What are you best attributes and your worst faults? How would you describe yourself in your own words.

Feel free to be honest or make something up. I encourage creativity. 🙂

What are your worst attributes? Please name two or three.

I’ll list mine first to break the ice.

  • I’m outspoken. A little too outspoken. Sometimes I wish my mouth had a filter. Some people have even called me aggressively outspoken. Of course my response to that is, ‘Who me?’. 🙂
  • I’m a procrastinator. Yes, and lazy too. That’s okay though because when I work, I work hard. (I’m also full of excuses…)
  • Sometimes I take things for granted. This is something I truly dislike about myself. I have learned the hard way how short life is. I have to remind myself everyday to appreciate what I have.

What are your best attributes? Please list two or three.

  • I love fully and honestly.
  • I’m loyal. Not like a dog loyal, but if my best friend needed bail money or an alibi…’nuff said
  • I’m outspoken. Yes, I just said that was one of my worst attributes, but it’s also one of my best. I’m real, no plastic here, what you see it what you get. Sometimes this is a good thing. At least you’ll always know where you stand with me.

Do you have contradictory character traits?

Your turn, tell me how you see yourself.

16 thoughts on “Character Study Part 1

  1. I often feel like a walking contradiction! But thanks for this question. I have to be honest, of course (see point #1)

    My greatest faults:
    #1. I am honest…often times I am misinterpreted by this trait. People don’t always understand the motivation behind my honesty and think me opinionated or dramatic. I also often feel like I must tell the truth when asked a direct question (others seem better at evasiveness than I); when I don’t give a direct answer, I feel as though I am lying.
    #2. I am intuitive…it gets me into trouble when I see things about people they don’t necessarily see, or when I judge motivations.
    #3. I am loyal…sometimes like a dog loyal, pathetically so. I don’t get it when the owner wants to kick me to the curb.

    My greatest characteristics:
    #1. I am honest…it is a trait I value above all in myself and others. Duplicity is not something I do well.
    #2. I am intuitive…it’s one of the things that spurs my creativity. I see and understand things on a level often not seen or understood by others.
    #3. I am loyal…sometimes I regret my loyalty when those I trust, break that trust. But really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the line from the poem, “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be be me.” (Auden)

    1. I cannot lie. I suck at lying. My friend always says, remind me never to rob a bank with you. 🙂
      I wear my feelings on my sleeve it makes it hard to hide my pleasure or displeasure.
      Intuitive is a great one. I can often predict people’s reactions to situations almost exact. It’s scary sometimes how right I can be about certain things. I’m sure it has more to do with being familiar with human nature then a 6th sense. People are predictable.

  2. Faults:
    1. I can take forever to make a decision on the little stuff. Like twenty minutes to pick something on the menu, then I’ll still second guess it. Or I’ll get bogged down researching something, when I already knew what I wanted to buy/do/get/whatever.
    2. I talk way too much. Just ask my husband. And too loudly. Just ask my mother.

    1. I can make major life decisions in a snap. We took no time at all with our decisions to buy our house, have a child (both times), pick our cars, or move out of state. They were snap decisions, but they were all the right decisions. My gut tends to speak quite loudly on these matters, and if I don’t listen, it’s just a waste of time.
    2. I don’t talk enough around new people. Sometimes they see this as me being snobbish or rude or uninterested in them, but I just like to soak new people in until I get a feel for them.

    1. It’s funny that you can make major life decisions in a snap but not little decisions. Maybe you’re just an all or nothing kind of person. You jump in with both feet.
      Speaking of, did you pick a color for you office yet? 🙂

      1. Ack, no! See? I can’t even decide on a paint color! Luckily (hmm, if you call it luck) we need to replace our a/c and duct work, so that bought me a couple of extra weeks to decide.

  3. Faults:

    1. Too internally judgemental of myself and others. I don’t verbally judge but mentally I do.
    2. I possess obsessive compulsive tendencies.
    3. I let my husband spoil me when I really should shoulder more of our daily responsibilities.


    1. I am pleasant to and respectful of others.
    2. I’m very organized and on top of things.
    3. I’m dependable and trustworthy.

    It’s hard to look at ourselves in this way, isn’t it? I can easily come up with faults but it’s more of a challenge to allow myself some positive assets.

    1. I think your husband likes to spoil you. It would probably be a disappointment to him if you didn’t let him.
      I can think of a lot of assets for you. You’re thoughtful, you have a great sense of humor, you’re fun loving, your a hard worker, you take excellent care of yourself, and your an attentive loving mother. See it’s easy. 🙂

  4. Hmmm…. Trying to disambiguate the characteristics that are two sides of the same coin and sometimes assets, sometimes faults (see Kathan’s excellent responses).

    1. I can be stubborn and inflexible. Eventually I loosen up, but it can take me longer than anyone is happy with.
    2. I’m too nice sometimes — which means that I’m not always honest to myself or others with my feelings, especially the not-so-nice ones. It’s one of the plagues of growing up female in the 50’s and 60’s. Which means I am sucker bait and get used too frequently (the downside of loyal/empathetic, which I get to under Strengths.)

    1. I am loyal. And Kathan put it way more eloquently (both + and -) than I could hope to.
    2. I am empathetic and a good listener. I can understand how someone would feel or act the way s/he does, even if I don’t agree. And I keep my mouth shut when someone tells me their deepest darkest secrets. (They may come out, wearing a Groucho Marx nose and mustache disguise, in my writing, though.)
    3. I am grateful for life, and am coming to grips and terms with impermanence and all that encompasses.

    1. Funny, I don’t think I would have guessed stubborn for you. Too nice, considering how often you end up in ER with your neighbor–yeah, that seems right.
      Some people just have that kind of face. My friend, I’m sure you’ve seen me mention the ‘coffee nazi’, people always spill their guts to her. She’ll get stuck in a Starbucks drive thru listening to the cashier’s problems for hours. People love to open up to her. I never get that, sometimes I wish I did. Imagine the story ideas. Although, I suck at small talk so I must seem unapproachable most of the time.

  5. Thanks Dayner! Your prompt is a perfect segue into my creative writing goal for this month of character study, design and development. Taking a look at my own character traits and describing positive, negative and sometimes contradictory ones will help get me started.

    Negative traits
    1. Can’t stick to it. I start off with great intentions with some things (like diets, exercise, lifestyle changes) but I lose steam and interest and tend to not follow through. When I look at the things I can follow through on, they are ones that maintain my interest (like writing).
    2. Fear of failure so I don’t try. I tend to stick close to my comfort zone. It may be a lack of confidence that keeps me inside boundaries.
    3.Procrastination. Bites me sometimes.

    Positive traits
    1. Dedication and dependability – a true strength that I am passionate about.
    2. Inner strength. I am comfortable in and with myself. I think this trait comes from a strong family base and the love of two wonderful parents who pushed me to grow personally and spiritually.
    3. Compassion. This leads me to volunteer in areas outside my comfort zone in an effort to continue to grow.

    These make up the contradictory Parrot who gets sidetracked easily and has to talk to herself to get back on track.

    1. Wait until you see part two. 🙂 That’ll be a lot more fun.
      Glad I could help. Fear of failure is one I think we all have trouble with. I know I do.

  6. I’m sorry I’m late on this one – vacation was worth it though. 😉

    This is a great post and I can’t wait to see part two. It really made me look at how these traits balance themselves.

    My Greatest Faults:
    1.I’m a perfectionist to the point of undermining my own confidence.
    2.I’m outspoken and tend to tell-it-like-it-is. Like it or not.
    3.I hold others accountable for their actions and take no BS. (Been there done that – I survived you can too.)

    My Greatest Characteristics:
    1.I strive to do things correctly and others can depend on me to always do my best.
    2.I’m honest and people can depend on me to always be honest.
    3.I’m an excellent manager of people and by holding others accountable for their actions I inspire people to better themselves and their situation instead of allowing them to get trapped in the cycle of self-pity.

    1. “I inspire people to better themselves and their situation instead of allowing them to get trapped in the cycle of self-pity.”
      Yes, you are a great cheerleader. You’ve helped me out of that trap a couple of times.

      Glad you’re back! We missed you.

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