Quite a few people requested some form of trait/personality generator, and here’s the result! I wanted to keep it vague enough that the options could work for any universe, be it modern, fantasy, scifi, or anything else, so these are really just the basics. Remember that a character is much more than a list of traits, and this should only be used as a starting point– I tried to include a variety of things, but further development is definitely a must.
Could pair well with the gender and sexuality generator.
To Play: Click and drag each gif, or if that isn’t working/you’re on mobile, just take a screenshot of the whole thing (multiple screenshots may be required if you want more than one trait from each category).
HEY WRITER FRIENDS
there’s this amazing site called realtimeboardwhich is like a whiteboard where you can plan and draw webs and family trees and timelines and all that sort of stuff. you can also insert videos, documents, photos, and lots of other things. you can put notes and post-its and, best of all, you can invite other people to be on the board with you and edit together!!
this is really really awesome and a great tool for novel planning, so if you’re doing nanowrimo…. this could be good for you!!
This is a great website and helped me to lay out so many things. Use it. It’s beautiful.
Protip for fanfiction writers: if you find yourself fighting canon, ask yourself whether that canon information was delivered by a secondhand source or by a person who could be either lying or uninformed. You’d be amazed how many “canon truths” you can handwave as misinformation then.
You can stop using applications with word count features. You can write notes around your station reminding you that you are not defined by your word count. If you’re concerned in writing more, you need to set out time just for writing. Start blocking the phrase ‘word count’ on your browser. Seriously. If it’s that big an issue, you need to block it out.
I really have not the slightest clue, I’m fiercely sorry, but maybe our followers can help.
We have added definitions of each word and an example sentence. Also, we have omitted hinted and insinuated, as we agree with fellow writers’ suggestions that they are not suitable additions to the list.
Instead of whispered, consider:
- murmured: A soft, indistinct sound made by a person or group of people speaking quietly or at a distance: "Don’t go," he murmured, grabbing her hand as she turned to leave.
- mumbled: Say something indistinctly and quietly, making it difficult for others to hear:"Thanks a lot," he mumbled sarcastically.
- muttered: Say something in a low or barely audible voice, esp. in dissatisfaction or irritation: She muttered to herself all the way down the hall, reciting all her usual complaints.
- breathed: Say something in a quiet voice or whisper: "I love you," she breathed, her eyes full of tears.
- sighed: Emit a long, deep, audible breath expressing sadness, relief, or tiredness; say something in a low or barely audible voice, esp. in sadness or irritation; to say exasperatedly, or all in one breath: "Right," he sighed. “Well, just don’t do anything too stupid.”
- hissed: To utter with a hiss, esp. in instances that include one or more sharp sibilant sounds, as of the letter s: "Just stop," she hissed, her grip on Lisa’s arm tightening.
- mouthed: To form (a word, sound, etc.) with the lips without actually making an utterance: "The baby’s asleep," she mouthed, leading her parents back into the living room.
- uttered: To give audible expression to; speak or pronounce: He uttered a string of barely audible insults.
- intoned: Say or recite with little rise and fall of the pitch of the voice: "I’m not going anywhere," she intoned. He could tell she was exhausted by the pitchless quality of her voice.
- susurrated: (susurration) The indistinct sound of people whispering: The room hummed with the soft susurrus of conversation.
- purred: To utter a low, continuous, murmuring sound expressive of contentment or pleasure, as a cat does: "I know you want me," she purred into his neck, trailing kisses across his collar bone.
- said in an undertone: To speak in a low or subdued tone: "Not now, Jessee," he said in an undertone.
- gasped: Say (something) while catching one’s breath, esp. as a result of strong emotion: She could hardly gasp out an apology.
- said low: (slang) Say something in a quiet voice or whisper: "Plants are more like us than you think," he said low, as if he spoke to the lilies themselves.
- said into [someone’s] ear: Say something in a quiet voice or whisper, esp. near the listener’s ear, in such a way that only they may hear: "Meet me in the parlor," he said into Jane’s ear, and her heart betrayed her with a flutter of excitement.
- said softly: Say something in a quiet voice or whisper: "I’m here now," Usula said softly, brushing a lock of hair from her cheek.
- said under [one’s] breath: (idiom) Say something in a muted voice or whisper: "Over my dead body," Jacob said under his breath.
- said in a hushed tone/in hushed tones: (idiom) Say something in a softened tone, or in a quiet voice or whisper: "Will he make it, Doctor?" Kendraasked in a hushed tone.
Thank you to everyone who reblogged this list to add their opinion. We have, with their permission, included some of these opinions so that you may benefit from their perspective.
memattbe adds: Whispered is the simplest and conveys what you mean by a whisper the best. Maybe murmured would be a good substitute if you just used whispered. Muttered, sighed, hissed, gasped, mouthed, purred, breathed, mumbled all mean things noticeably different than whisper. The said… ones aren’t bad, but one word is better than four.
ankh-the-odd adds:Also, don’t use alternate words for said.
It’s not boring, people’s eyes will just move right over the word said. If you use something else, you draw attention to it, and it messes up the flow of the text completely. You come to the end a bit of dialogue and then think “Woah okay what just happened.” It looks really unprofessional, tbh.
mumblingsage adds: I’ll just add that it’s always good to know a lot of not-quite-alternative words in case you ever think a character whispered, only to find out that they actually were murmuring it. The point is precision.
Or sometimes to avoid repeating words, but in that case you probably shouldn’t have a character performing the same action multiple times in a few paragraphs, or at least from continuing to remind the reader they’re doing it (if you state that a character is whispering, the reader will assume they continue whispering throughout the scene, until told otherwise).
And, um, if you thought your character was whispering and they’re actually susurrating…you might want to get that checked out.
There was another truly wonderful criticism of this list that is quite long, so we are including it in a Read More. Click below to see bobbyisrightthereyaidjit's critique.
Anonymous asked: Sorry if you’ve touched on this before, but I’ve read conflicting opinions about the use of “said.” Some articles/people swear that there is no need to change up “said,” and that doing so distracts from the dialogue. Others believe using more descriptive tags to replace “said” is the way to go. To use “said” or not to use “said”?
I think you’re looking for these articles:
- The Great Said Debate (this one especially, I think)
- He Said, She Said, Who Said What?
- Confession: I abuse dialogue tags like there’s no tomorrow.
- And here’s our page on dialogue.
Thank you for your question!
I honestly didn’t even realize I did it until I read this article (thank you writeworld for the link). I read the article, knowing that I probably use things like cried or exclaimed more than is generally accepted. When I finished the article, I flipped over to the novel I’m working on, and found the word exclaimed no less than 4 times on one page (and I hadn’t even finished writing the page!). Then I read the last few pages and found announced, called, cried, retorted, replied, grinned, and a truly ridiculous number ofexclaimed and 6 instances of the adverbial dialogue tags (along with several grey areas).
Help! I’m trapped in a cycle of dialogue abuse!
First of all:
(Thank you to peachtoadstool [this link is NSFW] for pointing out that “your” should be “you’re” in this gif. You’re a peach!)
Secondly, for us, the easiest way to stop overusing said bookisms is this:
- Take every instance of a dialogue tag that isn’t said or asked and change them to said (for statements) or asked (for questions). No adverbs after the dialogue tags either, just said or asked.
- Where that looks weird, like when a character is shouting or sobbing or whispering, get rid of the dialogue tag altogether and make it obvious with description who is speaking without coming out and saying “Karen said” or “Danny asked”.
- Instead of “Karen said”, try something like this: “I want you out of this house! I can’t stand the sight of you!” Karen paced around the kitchen, that familiar vein throbbing in her forehead, and I worried that she might start hurling knives.
- Instead of “Danny asked”, try: Hannah tried to slip out of bed without waking Danny, but he grabbed her hand. “Where are you going?” It was his sleepy voice, breathy and thick, with a slur only she could understand.
- At least once in every run of dialogue, try to find a place where a line can stand alone without any dialogue tag or exposition around it.
- If you’ve done all of these and you now feel like there are too many saids and asks, read this article and this article, and, if you still want to, go back and sprinkle in a few more colorful dialogue tags or add adverbs.
We hope that helps!
Having trouble finding synonyms for ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘tan’, etc? Have any clear idea what tone you’re going for? Here’s some web pages for skin tone description and references:
Handy Words for Skin Tone (Includes palettes and comparisons)
More Tone Synonyms w/ Pictures
7 Offensive Mistakes Writers Make (includes more than just skin color)