Character Trait Entry: Stubborn

Definition:

Unyielding; resolute  

Causes:

Stubbornness is a trait that can be positive or negative. Is the root cause pride, or is it determination or noble intent? Each puts a very different spin on a stubborn character, and will dictate their motives. A few possible causes for this trait: growing up spoiled & used to getting one's own way; control issues; a strong sense of right and wrong; fierce independence; an intense drive to succeed, win or be right; etc  

Characters in Literature:  

Nynaeve, (The Wheel of Time); Verruca Salt (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory); Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) Random: OMG I CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS MOVIE /random

Positives:

Bull-headed characters pick a course of action and can be trusted to see it through to the end. Because of this, characters with stubborn streaks make good leaders, provided they can take council when needed. Stubborns apply this trait to their relationships as well, becoming fiercely loyal to those who win their affections. Stubborn characters with an unparallelled sense of morality will always fight for what is right, no matter the obstacles. A special note: all heroes have a stubborn streak, and the fact that they cannot be contained is partly what makes them great.

Negatives:

Stubborns do not always know when enough is enough, and can sometimes push people to the breaking point simply because of their inability to deviate from a standpoint or course of action once set. Some Stubborns struggle with adaptability and miss the forest for the trees because they view problems from one angle only. They may hold to a goal even when it is no longer prudent to do so and have a hard time letting others contribute or control. Letting Pride drive their stubbornness can provide challenges or cause relationships to crumble, bringing pain to everyone involved. 


Common Portrayals: 

 The resolute boss; a stubborn toddler; military leadership; lawyers

Cliches to Avoid: 

 The military general hell-bent on winning no matter what the cost; spoiled brat kids; villains who are stubborn to a fault and as a result, it is their downfall (that's the easy way out, IMO.)

Twists on the Traditional Stubborn:   

  •  Stubbornness is almost always a positive for a protagonist, helping them to have the drive to succeed. Show us a situation where stubbornness due to a strong sense of right and wrong causes him or those around him great hardship.
  • Protags and Antags need to have a certain amount of Stubbornness but the root of an antag's stubborn trait is almost always pride. So....show us a Villain who's stubbornness comes from moral or noble roots instead!
  • Flip a cliche. Write a story where the stubborn 'spoiled brat' actually uses her stubbornness for good. Or the stubborn military leader who really does need to win, whatever the cost.
 Conflicting Characteristics to make your Stubborn unique or more interesting:   Lazy, passive, thoughtful, proper, indecisive  

15 comments:

Lisa Gail Green said...

This may be totally random also, but I can't wait for that movie either!!!! Oh and great post! thought provoking suggestions on the anti-stereotype

Heather said...

"All heroes have a stubborn streak" I never thought about it before but that's so true! I'm jotting down notes from this one. And I SO can't wait for the movie too!!!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Interesting, Angela. I always seem to put a negative spin on the word stubborn. I like how you've shown it's flip side.
Oh, I hope the movie lives up to the book!

Maya said...

Hmm, this makes me think of the antagonist from Hellboy 2, prince Nuada, a stubborn character with a twist. :) Also, I know I'm repeating what everyone else said above, but I can't wait for that movie either!

Becca Puglisi said...

Ahhhh, the stubborn toddler. Yes, let's not create any more of THOSE, please.

Martha Ramirez said...

Ooh this one is a good one, Angela! Thank you.

Angela Ackerman said...

ROTF, Becca. Yeah, I guess stubborn toddlers aren't on your A list right now! Oh, those were the days...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I love this trait, because there are so many ways to use it, both negs and positives. Being stubborn can help or hurt you, and it's a trait where the characters needs to master it, or it will master them. :)

Eve S Nicholson said...

I love the thought of writing a villain who's stubbornness comes from a moral standpoint ...hmmmmm.... that could be fun!

Cat said...

Very interesting. I like this post a lot... it reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones's Tough Guide to Fantasyland. She point out cliches sort of the same way you just did. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, what a fun trait to play around with! :) Great work, as always!

Mirka Breen said...

You gals are doing a beautiful job with the character personality traits. Your stubbornness will pay off. {Sorry, just had to…}Stick to it and there’s a whole book there.

Theresa Milstein said...

Katniss certainly was stubbon. I bet stubborn is a fun one to write.

Sunny Smith said...

I always look forward to the "Twist on the Traditional" sections of these!:D Thanks so much!

ralfast said...

Loghain from Dragon Age: Origins is certainly a stubborn character who believes that his actions are justified in order to keep his country free from foreign occupation.

He is wrong, but you got to admire him for trying to do what in his mind was right.

Angela Ackerman said...

My son is playing Dragon Age right now and loving it. I'll probably play it too--thanks for the example!

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