Repetitive bad character traits

So I was reading some stories like always and I noticed something. It’s good that people give their MC bad traits, but most of the bad traits are the same for most MC’s. They’re often hot-tempered, stubborn and naive or extremely distrusting. They also rarely apologise, don’t like to listen to others their side, close-minded and often jump to conclusions.

I’m not saying that every MC is like that or that every MC with those character traits is badly written, but it often contradicts the MC’s whole “persona”. I often see bad girls, nerds, “normal” girls, CEO’s, etc act like this while it often doesn’t make sense. Why would the awkward nerd with no social skills feel comfortable to yell at the bad boy they barely know. Didn’t the CEO learn to not jump to conclusions? The bad girl is also often seen as a rebel and as far as I know rebels are often pretty open minded.

Many of the times they also don’t really develop those traits. It’s more like they suddenly turn soft, shut up and it seems less noticeable.

I know that many people have those traits, but I’d like to see some variation in the way people react in not so pleasant situations. Then again it’s their story and they can write what they want.

PS. I’m not directing this towards any specific authors, but it’s something I see often.


I totally agree with what your saying and see where you are coming from, however most authors use these character traits to develop the character and have character growth. Also, all the bad personality traits you claimed leave basically a plain Jane left for authors to write and not many reader want to read that.
Again I see where you’re coming from, but I also understand that these character traits are ones that could be important. :hugs::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Yeah I get that. It’s hard to come up with different weaknesses, but I just notice that most of them act the same in moments of crises. Then again I also definitely get where you’re coming from.


Hope Moon’s characters all look & act the same. (females)
Same character deets, just changed colors xd

Not hating on her but all her stories are kinda the same …


Yep totally agree! I think that they can have the same character traits, but let them grow a little differently

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I think there are a couple things going on with this issue. For one, a lot of those characteristics you’re talking about are seen as “good” or ~sexy~ depending on who’s doing them and who we’re supposed to root for. When the MC yells at people and refuses to listen to anyone, we’re supposed to see her as “strong” but when the “mean girl” antagonist does the same, we’re supposed to see her as obxious.

But the larger issue I think is that people just work too hard to separate their characters’ “good traits” and “bad traits.” In reality, it doesn’t work like that. Characters (like people) just have traits and they become a positive or negative trait depending on the situation. Like if someone is “hot-tempered” that can be detrimental to interpersonal relationships because that quick reaction often leads to a lack of genuine communication, but in situations where time is important or everyeone else seems frozen by fear or uncertainty - that quick reaction is a positive thing. I often see people saying characters need to have flaws, but all characters are flawed anyway. Spending the majority of the story treating others like garbage or weaponizing their own pain against others isn’t a character flaw; it just makes the characters really not engaging.

Characters need development, but this needs to be mapped out and in the beginning we should get hints about what goals and values and aspirationst the character has that will influence their character development. Otherwise it’s just like whiplash when characters go from one trait to another. If you want to show different elements of a character’s personality, put them in different situations. For example, my MC is a bit of a cliche in that he can be kind of grumpy and sarcastic and is very guarded around letting new people in. However, his sarcasm is typically directed towards situations and power structures and while letting new people in is difficult for him, he has very solid, very important relationships in his life in which he’s hapy to vulnerable. Characters’ traits come through differently in different situations and with different people and that’s how authors can show the depth of their characters’ personalities without relying on having separate lists of “good traits” and “bad traits.”

Honestly, though, I think another issue is people sometimes get caught up on the character archetypes rather than the characters themselves. If people want to write a story about a nerd and a bad boy, that’s fine, but those characters still need distinctive personalities that develop over time. The archetypes themselves won’t carry you through a story. And when it comes to romance stories in particular, the traits you write for the characters should demonstrate what it is about those two characters specifically that makes them a good match. They aren’t a good match because they’re a nerd and a bad boy (or whatever trope you’re going for), they’re a good match because their traits and values and how they develop make them uniquely suited for each other.


I agree. A lot of the “bad traits” given always seem to go against the character’s nature. My MC is stubborn, and tends to let her temper get the better of her whereas the one love interest tends to be cold reserved and tends to show his caring nature in invasive ways. :joy:

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I think this is sooooo extremely important and honestly I think a big reason that this is something authors struggle with so much is that it’s something people struggle with in real life. In one of my classes theres this girl who talks very negatively about her tendency to be up front and confrontational because a lot of people dont take that behavior very well but it saddens me that shes thinks that’s a flaw in herself because as someone who often struggles to speak up for myself its something I really admire in her. I definitely understand how it can cause her trouble but it also 100% has it’s good sides too

This has bothered me about so many stories. I hate just being told who I should like/dislike without being given any reason to feel that way other than the author told me to. Especially when they paint the « mean girl’s » jealousy as negative when they had every reason to be jealous because the guy leaves her for the MC like how am i supposed to fault her for that and like you said a lot of the times the « mean girl » does the same things as the MC but im supposed to believe one is « good » and one is « bad? »

Once again I think this is so important, and something I’ve been guilty of myself in past

Edit: lmao pardon my French keyboard quotations

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This is so true! Those characters always remind me of Bella Swan from twilight. Really generic girl with little to no personality, has loyal friends without investing in a relationship with them, and she’s always kind of depressed or worried for no reason.

If I let my MC do a bold move, I usually make a choice out of it. That way, the reader can decide if she feels the MC must speak up or remain too shy to talk. I also do this in stressful situations: the reader decides if she will panic, freeze up or fight.
It’s really hard to make a character authentic and there are only a few writers who have mastered it.