Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Traits I Like in Characters,” but I decided to get a little more specific, because honestly, there are a LOT of traits that I like in characters.
And a couple of years ago I realized that there are specific trait + character class combinations that I like more than others. And traits that I usually find annoying in one class I love in another. For example–thieves (rogues) and sarcasm? Been there done that. But sarcasm in, say…a medic type of character? Much more interesting.
So these are some of my favourite traits for specific character classes/types.
🔪 Rogues 🔪
Pirate Captains (or any leader figures, really):
I have a **thing** with people–er, characters–who have power and status and aren’t good, per se, but are sticklers about manners and respecting personal boundaries.
Just because you rob innocents out in the sea and commit a murder or two or a dozen every now and then, doesn’t mean you have to be rude about it.
2. Casual, Confident Confidence
This is actually a trait I’m meh about in assassins and thieves. But give me a feathered hat, a parrot, and a show of authority and POOF, magic happens, I guess.
These characters are capable and dangerous–cross them and they’ll run you through with a knife without a hitch in their moral compass–and everyone knows it, including themselves. But the confidence isn’t a forced act they have to put on. It’s like a second skin for them, and they know exactly when to dial it down and when to blast it in full-force. That awareness and control is a sexy, sexy thing.
– Isabela (aka my video game wife) from Dragon Age 2
1. Kindness and Empathy
Because I’m a contrarian. And I fall hard for kindness in any type of character.
But genuine kindness in someone whose job is anything but kind–someone who deals out cold, calculated death on a regular basis–is something that’s especially attractive and fascinating to me. The fact that they’re able to retain their humanity when there’s so much blood on their hands is nothing short of incredible.
– FitzChivalry (Realm of the Elderings series by Robin Hobb)
– Girton (The Blood of Assassins series by R.J. Barker)
Nothing hotter than an assassin who debates religious philosophy with you and says a nice prayer for your passing after they stick a knife between your ribs, eh?
(I’m 100% serious here)
– Thane Krios (Mass Effect 2 & 3)
🔮 Magic Users 🔮
Witches and Wizards:
This is how I always want my sarcasm. Served with a big bowl of fireballs.
See, being a spellcaster is hard life, folks. You’re the easiest target in battle. You’re more often than not shoved into the role of a sidekick (when you’re not being burned at the stake, that is). And who gets most of the credit and glory at the end of the day? Yeah. The guy with the pointy stick.
So a wizardy or witchy type of character with a sarcastic, I’ve-had-enough-of-this-shit attitude is…cathartic? Satisfying? Something along those lines.
2. Brassy with Low Tolerance for Idiots
See above? I especially love female witches/wizards who are like this, because we can never have enough loud, outspoken women in fiction.
– Joan Clayton (Penny Dreadful)
3. Childlike Wonder
I look at seerhood in most stories as more of a curse than a gift. And as with assassins, I think it’d be incredibly difficult to retain your humanity (or sanity) in this particular line of work. So, to me, a seer who possesses a kind of bright-eyed innocence, even with the weight of millions and millions of lives bearing down on them, is someone to be treasured.
– Quinn (The Tarot Sequence series by K.D. Edwards)
⚔️ Warrior/Fighter ⚔️
This isn’t a character I come across all too often, and I’d love to see that remedied. Because people who enjoy charging into the thick of a fight, blades and guns drawn, don’t necessarily have to be extroverts. They may be anxious about socializing and quiet in a crowded room, which is perfectly fine and should be more normalized, in my opinion.
🤷 Normal People 🤷
1. Unwavering Moral Conviction
Listen, I love vigilantes and anti-heroes as much as the next person. Characters who “break bad” because they believe society is rigged, and flirting with the dark side is the only way to achieve justice in the long run. They make for fantastic stories.
But I love the flip side of it even more: public servants who stay within the limits of the law because they believe, with every ounce of their being, that you can’t right wrongs with more wrongs. These characters never waver in their convictions, even when those around them–people they love and trust–are choosing to discard the law and societal order for personal gain. Or if they do waver, if they end up going through moments of crisis, they come out on the other side even stronger.
I may not always agree with them, but I find these characters admirable regardless.
– Akane Tsunemori (Psycho-Pass)
– Mulagesh (The City of Blades by Robert Bennett Jackson)
Love this list! Also I love Isabella and Thane so that explains a lot.
Love this post, Kathy! I appreciate unusual character trait/combos as well. And since I’m reading Hanged Man right now, I’m loving that you included Quinn as an example😁
Sorry I’m getting to this late, Tammy!! And haha that’s an awesome coincidence. I hope you loved THM!! 😀
I love your twist on this week’s topic! Ugh I love Mulaghesh so much. Also witches with a low tolerance for idiots are also my favourite thing, and I know exactly what you mean about courteousness – that’s the main reason Hannibal Lecter works so well for me. He’s absolutely terrifying, but he’s just so polite about it that I can’t help being fascinated by him.
I’m replying to this a decade late, but thank you Jess!!! Hannibal Lector–mainly Mads Mikkelson’s version of him–is one of my favourite characters for that very reason. It’s utterly fascinating how rudeness is the worst crime to someone who can’t feel empathy or remorse.
I absolutely love how you have separated them into class and trait because I completely agree that you prefer different traits in different characters!! 😊
I absolutely loved this post and love so many of the characters you have mentioned!!
I love characters who are evil but have manners– it is kind of a weird combination as they are almost opposite but I think it is great and so fun to read about (I’m not sure fun is the right word but I’m going with it 😂)
Also in the boneless mercies there is a character who is a contract killer and believes in religion. She isn’t the main character but I thought I would let you know.
Now you’ve mentioned it I so what a character who is a shy introverted fighter– that would be amazing!! 😍 I need that character!!
Great post and as always I loved reading it!! ❤
Yes to courteousness! That character trait is definitely underrated.
Thanks, Evelyn! <3
I love how you split the list into specific types of characters.
Thanks, Carol!! Dividing it into types felt a lot less daunting than just listing out all my favourite traits. 😀 And so sorry for the late reply!
Oooh I love how you sorted these traits. 🙂 🙂
Thanks Lili!! The list was a lot of fun to write. 😀 And gosh, sorry for the late reply. I’ve been neglecting my blog this month.
I love Fitz so much. He just wants to live and have a meaning in life which he got as a young child. Who can blame him for that.
I love this write-up! I, too, am a sucker for courteous, confident pirates. Really, anybody who has the confidence to know they can wreck you, but isn’t arrogant or bragging about it, gets an automatic +5 from me.
What a fun list:). Thank you for sharing!
It was a TON of fun to make! Glad you enjoyed it, Sarah! 😀
I also love competent charaters, especially casually competent women. Love Mulagesh, too!
I LOVE that she got her own story in City of Blades. Second books aren’t usually my favourite with trilogies, but that one was just so good. And I still can’t stop thinking about the ending
Yessssss, this list is everything. *heart eyes forever*
Muahahahah <3 <3 <3
Omg I love a sarcastic witch or wizard. So much fun and so satisfying 😀 And I’d love to see more of those shy warrior types! I love it when a character is quiet and everyone thinks they’re being all strong and silent but really they’re just shy 😂
Gah so sorry I’m getting to this late, Margaret!!! I’ve been busy with things and have been neglecting the blog. And I think we all need more strong and secretly shy warriors in our fictional life. 😀
Wonderful list! I agree with so many of your remarks!🙂
Thanks Ola!! Glad you liked it 😀
I really love characters who are leaders the most. I especially have a weakness for kings or princes. 😂
I have a soft spot for kings and princes too!! Especially ones who don’t *want* to be kings or princes, but are still stuck in that role. 😀
Oooh I love your take on this! And while I love sarcasm in all characters, I agree its better in unusual classes!! Have you read Sorcery of Thorns? There is a super snarky Wizard and I LOVE him <3
This was such an amazing post! <3 I really enjoyed reading about the character traits that you love. I love many of these as well, especially the ones for the rogues! 😀
Aww thanks, Anna!!! Glad you enjoyed it! I love, LOVE rogues (with *any* personality trait, really) so that one was fun to do. 😀
I LOVE that you like Assassins with kindness and empathy, because why not? Fitz really is the perfect example too.
Oh, now I reeeaally want to read Robin Hobb’s series! That’s such a cool character trait / job combination! Also, yes too sarcastic wizards and witches (although you can get me with sarcasm every time no matter who or what)
And courteous leaders and thieves who have their own rules and manners and stick to them are the best!! Loved this post, Kathy!!
I feel like I say this to people every other week, but you SO have to read Robin Hobb, El!!! She is amazing at taking your typical fantasy archetypes–princesses, pirates, assassins–and giving them traits that you wouldn’t normally think to find in those character types. And they genuinely all feel like actual people. It’s incredible and I’m 80% sure it’s black magic. 😀
I love that you decided to be more specifics with your list and go into categories of characters too. It’s such a lovely extra and some of your favourites sound quite interesting.
Aww thank you so much, Charlotte!!! I had a lot of fun writing the list, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. <3
Yay for Fitz! Like you, I’m a sucker for an assassin with a heart of gold! 🙂
Yay indeed! I think Fitz will forever be my #1 fictional love. 😀