Positive And Negative Traits For Your Characters

creating positive and negative character traits

I have a writing folder called ‘Writing on the go’ and it goes with me everywhere that I choose to write. I keep some reference books and notes to hand while writing my novels and then double back on them during editing.

Tucked inside my 'Writing on the go' folder is my copy of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi's Emotion Thesaurus. If you don't own this writing reference book, or haven't read it, go and get it now as it's a must-have accessory to any busy writing desk. I dive into this writing guide time and time again to be inspired by the various emotions listed or to find some interesting new ways to express all kind of moods.the emotion thesaurus

Needless to say when Angela and Becca's new additions, The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus, arrived on my door mat I couldn’t wait to tuck into them and see how I could improve my fictional characters.

Before I tell you what I think ... have you ever had the strange sensation of a penny dropping over a period of time? Over either a few minutes or hours?

In other words, has something that you didn't even know had been puzzling you slowly dawned on you and after that you feel lots of other insights floating in your mind’s ether, just waiting for the dots to join up?

Sounds weird, huh?

This strange, but satifisfying realisation occurred to me as I started reading both Positive and Negative Traits. Not sure why I started with Negative Traits – maybe because I wanted to work backwards. Nevertheless, this connection of dots started materialising in my brain when I began to read. 

It was only when I started on Postitive Traits did I realise what this strange sensensation was in my head – almost as if I knew something more was brewing and about to happen.

Anticipation? Very much so! And also the realisation and understanding of how we as writers need to create our novel’s characters to make the story worth reading.positive trait thesaurus

But hang on, I'm sure I already knew that. So what’s new to me from the PT and NT experience? I suggest you get the books and go to the guts of them to find good and bad character traits for your story people.

Resist that powerful urge to dive into your first draft when a story idea or character pops into your mind. Instead, take the time to read the advice in the beginning chapters of these writing reference guides.

Sit alone and undisturbed. Switch off all distractions like the telly, music and ignore the doorbell. Better still, put a ‘Don’t Disturb’ sign on your door. Send the hubby and kids packing (not forever, just for the day or a few hours...).


Because you need peace and quiet to absorb the info that Angela and Becca give you in the Positive and Negative Trait guides. The advice on why and how you must create your fictional characters is vital to understand why and how they should behave (or not behave) throughout your story.

You as the novelist will start to understand and ‘get’ how your readers will connect with these characters and thus keep reading your book and ultimately love it.

I can’t stress this enough – studying these traits before you flesh out your fictional characters will help determine where your story is going and how to make the plot work with your characters.

You hear it all the time: authors must have an intimate knowledge of their characters and in particular their character’s past in order to understand their personalities in the present. Something else that strikes home with a gong – you don’t need to include all this info in your book.

In fact, best you don’t or there’ll be the temptation to info-dump. But just knowing your characters through and through will most certainly help you plot their story lines simply because yonegative trait thesaurusu know this ‘person’ inside out.

Angela and Beca explain that developing a backstory allows writers to see how characters' past experiences have moulded them into who they are today in your novel. Flaws are weaknesses, also known by some writing refence guide authors as ‘their dark side’.

These three essential guides to creating real people in your novel will become a must-have writing on the go resource for you. Of that I am convinced!

Buy The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws
By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi

Buy The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws
By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi

Buy The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expressions
By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi

Enjoy them - I certainly do. In fact, I can't wait to start a new novel so I can create positive and negative traits for my characters and give them real people's emotional expressions! Yippee ...

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