8 Negative Traits I Like in Stories

Hi Blisses,

Once upon a time, right before I profiled my characters for ‘Anina’, I wrote a list of characters I liked just to give me an idea on what makes a character a great character. In that list, included were those characters’ traits and even though I already knew it, it still amazed me to see that what made those characters great are not their good traits but how they were written, because, honestly, their negative traits outweigh the good. What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter how characteristically awful the characters are, or the fact that in real life, you wouldn’t even try associating with these kinds of characters, but in fiction if they’re written masterfully, then they’re great characters and they made stories so much better. They make the plot moves.

So that’s why, when I saw the prompt for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday – Character Traits I Love – I decided right away that I would share Negative Traits that I think make stories more interesting. By the way, this meme is hosted by Jana or That Artsy Reader Girl and you can know more about this meme and many other awesomeness in her blog.

Now, to the top ten negative traits I like in stories…

1.) Brooding

Brooding characters are also aloof and mysterious, first of all. This trait really works great in Romance, also in all genres , but most especially to Romance. In romance, there’s nothing more enjoyable than reading about two characters, one is hating (or sometimes trying to figure out) the one who is brooding, and then finding out what the heck is the reason for the brooding. I’m looking at you Mr. Darcy. On a darker side of the brooding-type, we can look at Prof. Snape or Heathcliff from “Wuthering Heights”.

2.) Obsessed

NOPE, not in romance but in other genres like mystery, suspense, crime or even sci-fi. Let’s not romanticise obsession because it is NOT healthy to obsesses over other person but if the obsession is a fruit of an ambition or a goal and then because of that, the person did something that results to something evil, then it is a great element in a story. Something evil, like a crime or you know, everything made by mad scientists, say like Victor Frankenstein.

3.) Ill-tempered (or Grumpy)

I wanted to see this trait in a much darker color but “Ove” in “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman keeps invading my mind so let’s settled with the grumpy or ill-tempered that is somehow adorable. So see, grumpiness, if done right can make a characters adorable and easy to love.

4.) Destructive

This must be the most negative trait in this list but hear me out. A destructive character can be many things and you can define this trait in anyway you want, but one thing for sure, s/he can make a story a hundred times more worth reading because a ‘destructive character‘ breathes out conflicts and what is a story without conflicts. And really, we can all other negative traits in this list, destructive.

5.) Unapologetic

This, on the other hand, is the most positive in this list despite it being a negative trait because let’s be honest, unapologetic people can be annoying if done wrong. Unapologetic people can be selfish who care for nothing but themselves and what they want. Thankfully we are blessed in literature with unapologetic characters who appear strong and brave rather than selfish. Unapologetic characters know who they are and what they want. They go for it and likely to succeed.

6.) Stubborn

I love stubborn characters because they annoy other characters. hehe. But on a more serious note, stubborn characters are likely to make mistakes and mistakes are usually what makes a character development more satisfying and more believable.

7.) Cunning / Sly / Deceptive / Sneaky

Apologies for providing you synonyms for liars. Truly, I found these traits the most interesting. It’s because these three traits are really negative but most of the times they become positive depends on the reason and intent of the person. This is especially true in fiction. That’s why I love characters who have these traits because it’s so fascinating to see or discover what made or pushed them to be like it. Then they make me question the definition of right and wrong. Gosh, I’m so fascinated by these traits.

8.) Greedy

I was watching “The Lorax” last weekend with my 4-year old cousin and I am once again convinced that greed is one of the best negative traits authors can ever give to their characters. Why, because greed always bear the wrong fruits. I mean, all of the traits in this list bear wrong fruits but with greed, it’s always comes with the most emotional realization and most important lesson. Once a character let greed takes over, there’ll be shortage of something as a result and most of the times that something is very hard to find or produce again.


Okay, unfortunately I only got to list eight (8) negative traits, it’s because other traits would be just synonyms of the one I listed. In fact, I have the “Destructive” above which covers lots of negative traits. But I hope you enjoyed reading why I like these traits in the characters of the books I read.

I just want to clear it again, I only like these traits in fiction because they results to conflicts and move the plot. I definitely don’t want them in people in real life, and not in myself – except maybe unapologetic.

Now, what do you think of these traits? Do you find them negative at all? Positive? Why? Let’s chat, OK?

30 thoughts on “8 Negative Traits I Like in Stories

  1. Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads says:

    Lili! I absolutely love the take you did on this week’s prompt. I never thought about negative traits that I would like in a character, or what would make a story better and I totally agree with all of these. I’m also so glad that you mentioned to not romanticize obsession because I feel like that was done too much and it’s not healthy or something that should be considered romantic. Great post ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • lilisblissfulpages says:

      Thank you. I’m glad you liked it and agreed. ❀❀ About Obsession, right? They keep romanticizing it and I don’t like it. I worrry about the younger readers too. I do enjoy characters, especially guys, who are a bit jealous and possessive, if done right it can be cute. Just not too much. I’m sure you know what I’m saying. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. nen & jen says:

    YES to brooding and ill-tempered characters! I love them to pieces. It’s honestly one of the best traits in a romance book (even though that sounds like the complete opposite of romance :P). I’m biased though as I love the enemies to lovers trope and brooding/ill-temper is quite often associated with that haha! Great list Lili!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie (TBR and Beyond) says:

    Oh I agree with all these, this is my favorite list so far that I’ve seen this week. I loved flawed and unlikable characters – I think they give an authentic sense to books. Not everyone is lovely and most people have lots of shades to them, so I’m all for these traits.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    Oh, I love how you twisted this one! I often like the negative traits of characters more, too. It makes them more interesting, in my opinion. Ill-tempered characters are great, and I absolutely LOVE Ove. ❀ Granny, from another Fredrik Backman book, is equally as great. I love apologetic characters, too, especially if they're villains and unapologetically so. Great post!

    Like

  5. Dedra @ A Book Wanderer says:

    Oooh, I like your twist! Unapologetic is a good one!!

    I did a twist too and made my list character traits of my favorite literary couples. πŸ™‚
    Here’s my TTT!

    Liked by 1 person

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