Causes: having experienced success in the past, the mindset that each failure is but a stepping stone to future successes, growing up in an environment that fosters free thinking and problem solving, being surrounded and influenced by other big thinkers, a persistent dissatisfaction with the status quo
Characters from Literature and History: Dr. Frankenstein, Merlin, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci
Positives: Visionaries see the world through a lens of possibility. Where others see problems, they see solutions. They are confident, usually of high intelligence, and bold. Visionaries are so secure in their vision of what can be that they are not easily swayed by criticism and what others may think. They are incredible problem solvers and strong under pressure. Visionaries are responsible for much of the positive (and negative) change that happens in the world.
Negatives: Having a vision often means standing alone; this means that many visionaries live lives of isolation. The more radical their ideas, the more likely they are to be vilified rather than praised by others. While visionaries may clearly see what can be, they often lack the practical understanding of how to reach the goal. Their impracticality can frustrate those around them and undermine the visionary's ability to succeed. Due to their high intelligence, visionaries can also come across as condescending, impatient, and socially awkward. Because of their inability to accept the status quo, visionaries often find themselves opposed by powerful enemies.
Common Portrayals: scientists, inventors, magicians, geniuses, world leaders, artists
Cliches to Avoid: the egomaniacal crazy visionary bent on taking over the world; the eccentric but lovable magician or scientist; the passionate inventor who creates something that changes the world but sacrifices his family and values to do so
Twists on the traditional Visionary:
- Visionaries usually envision something that is beneficial or helpful. But what if their goal is ambiguous--good for some, detrimental to others?
- We like to remember the "good" visionaries, but many horrible ideas and events were also birthed by those with incredible foresight and boldness. Instead of the purely evil visionary who sees nothing wrong with his pursuit, conflict your villain. Show him struggling with right and wrong just like the good guys do.
- Complicate things for your solitary visionary. Out of necessity, give him a partner.
Conflicting characteristics to make your Visionary unique or more interesting: timid, ignorant, anxious, pessimistic, selfish