Character Trait: Creative

Definitionmarked with the desire or skill to create

Causes: innate giftedness, coming from a creative family or environment, a desire for power or recognition, an unavoidable need to share what's inside with others, finding a void and wanting to fill it, seeing and appreciating beauty in untraditional forms

Characters in Literature: Olivia (the pig), Amy March (Little Women), Skeeter Phelan (The Help), Joe (The Sky is Everywhere)

Positives: Creative people usually see the world a little differently than most, and so they almost always have a fresh perspective to offer. The power of creation doesn't come easy, so those who seek to create are usually determined, hard-working, and driven. Creatives have a long-distance perspective that enables them to work through criticism, discouragement, and rejection.

Negatives: Because creative types tend to be focused on their gift, they may be somewhat out of touch with reality. This can lead to awkwardness or insecurity in social situations. Their focus on the muse can distract them from day-to-day practicalities, like house cleaning, paying the bills, and getting places on time. The need to create can become so all-consuming that it leads to the neglect of important relationships, creating isolation. The path to creation is also rife with naysayers, turning some creatives negative and jaded. 

Common Portrayals: artists, authors and poets, actors, dancers, musicians, chefs, interior designers, fashion designers, entrepreneurs, child prodigies

Cliches to Avoid: the tormented artist; the hermit author; the frustrated, alcoholic or drug-addicted creative; the brilliant but socially awkward creative; the penniless, desperate actor

Twists on the Traditional Creative:  
  • Creatives are almost always driven by the passion to create. What about the reluctant creator? Someone who doesn't necessarily want to do it for some reason, but they need to?
  • Personally, I think the artist/author/musician creative has been overdone. I'd like to see more stories about highly creative characters in other fields: architecture, automotive manufacturing, city planning
  • In the real world, successful CEOs are also creators, but their product is less tactile and "beautiful" than in the traditional creative arts. And all we hear about them is their financial prowess. Why not focus on their creative process instead?

Conflicting Characteristics to Make your Creative Unique or More Interesting: reluctant, practical, wicked, glamorous, charming, wealthy


Traci Kenworth said...

I'm one of these, of course, lol. You're right though, a person can be creative in any field and we should look to extend that perspective in our characters. Oh, the ideas that come to mind!!

Rosalind Adam said...

I love your twists of the traditional view of creatives... but City planning! Is that creative?!

Michelle Gregory said...

i can be a reluctant creative.

so what about the creative blacksmith who wants to make things that are not just functional but beautiful? i have one of those in my novel. and you can see something he might have created at my blog today. :)

Heather said...

Out of touch with reality, I love that. Totally using that! Thanks!

Becca Puglisi said...

Oooh, Michelle, I like that!

And Rosalind, I think it COULD be creative; they all don't have to be laid out identically. This illustrates my point, that there are so many potential fields where creativity could thrive, but I tend to see the same ones represented in novels. It would be nice to see something new :).

Jeff King said...


Carrie Butler said...

I always love the twists! :)

Leigh Covington said...

Yep! I'm officially in love with this blog! :)

Shelley Munro said...

I really liked this post. My current WIP has a heroine who works in design and advertising. This post is food for thought.

Leslie S. Rose said...

I am loving the character Adam in Tempest right now as a creative soul. He's a science nerd, but his ideas and theories are wildly creative. Perfecto post as usual.

Stephen Tremp said...

My kids used to love Olivia. Sketch comedy for cartoon pigs. Now I have the theme song stuck in my head.

Becca Puglisi said...

Luckily, there aren't many words to remember ;)

Amy Croall said...

I absolutely agree. I can be a tad out of touch with reality, which can really drive a wedge between my husband and I.

I'm recently published with an indie house (historical romance), and all my energies are going into promotion. But, at the same time, I'm starting a Young Adult series. I find that it's all I can talk about whenever I interact with someone!

Amy Croall
Author of "A Cure for the Condition"
Impossible Love with Real Characters

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