Character Trait Thesaurus Entry: Curious

Definition: marked by a desire to investigate and learn

Causes: a naturally inquisitive nature, growing up in an environment where exploration and asking questions was encouraged, the optimistic belief that there is always something more to be learned, a thirst for knowledge, a desire to right wrongs or make things better 

Characters in Literature: Alice (in Wonderland), Curious George, Harriet (the Spy)

Positives: When others see problems or inconveniences, those who are curious see an opportunity to gain knowledge. Their curiosity can make them adventurous, spurring them on to do things others wouldn't do. They are also often very knowledgeable, either in a general way, or about something specific. Characters who are curious easily stumble upon secretive things, or involve themselves in things they shouldn't; as such, they can conveniently introduce conflict into a story line.

Negatives: Curious characters are often impulsive, acting without thinking when an opportunity arrives. They can be single-minded to a fault, focused on their pursuit, or hopelessly distracted, following whatever rabbit trail appears before them. Those who are curious are frequently more interested in their current topic of exploration than they are in their relationships and the people in their lives. They may not understand or appreciate people who aren't as curious as they are.

Common Portrayals: scientists, inventors, children

Clichés to Avoid: the feeble minded but good hearted bumbler who finds everything interesting; the child who repeatedly asks "why?", the eccentric scientist

Twists on the Traditional Curious Character:  
  • Curiosity is usually displayed as a childish characteristic. What about a competent adult with a childlike curiosity about the world or a particular topic?
  • Curious characters are usually somewhat awkward or socially backward and so are often cast as secondary characters. How about a curious hero? Or a curious villain who's motivated by his need to know?
  • Those who are curious usually love to share their knowledge with others. Why not create a curious character who is secretive and selfish with his findings--maybe one who's curiosity is a means to a conniving end?
Conflicting characteristics to make your curious character unique or more interesting: bitter, solemn,  popular, evil, fierce, selfish

14 comments:

Catrina Barton said...

This is awesome. Thanks for all of your hard work ladies. :)

Bonnee Crawford said...

Curious people are so adorable :D

Traci Kenworth said...

I love curious, inquisitive children. The "whys" are so much fun to speculate. Thanks for this entry!!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

As someone with a life-long insatiable curiosity, I prefer to think of it as a thirst for knowledge. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.

Jamie said...

Hi there! I just found your blog and I'm quite taken by it. This entry on the curious character trait is interesting, and it's already spawned a few new ideas.

I don't know why, but for whatever reason it never occurred to me to look for writing blogs; I usually hang around artsy/crafty places. I'm not even sure how I got here, but here I am, and now I've enlisted as a stalker. Don't worry, I'm not usually dangerous.

Usually. Anyway, stop by for a visit, if you like: scissorsandsteam.blogspot.com :)

Becca Puglisi said...

Welcome, Jamie!

Jemi Fraser said...

I think most writers are curious folks - I know I'm always, always asking questions and I love to find out 'stuff'! :)

Susanne Drazic said...

At times, my cat is too curious for his own good. He'll use his nose to move items around, trying to find out what is underneath. Don't let him around one of my piles of papers. He's sent a few falling to the floor.

Matthew MacNish said...

Perfect.

LisaAnn said...

Holy moly! This website is a goldmine! Thanks for all of this!

yilia said...

great,i love it very much

Julie Musil said...

Have I mentioned how brilliant you two are? Just today I looked up "angry," and used one of your suggestions. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. You're like Cliff Notes for writers :D (<=my extreme happy face)

Carrie Butler said...

Great post, as usual!

P.S. Why does Curious George have to be so stinkin' cute? :D

Dave Byerlee said...

Curious characters can add a certain whimsy to a story and can be diverting for the reader. In film and TV sometimes the curious character can become the star think of Dr Spock in Star Trek or the weird villain in any number of crime or cowboy TV shows and movies. In fiction the curious character can have gravitas and pathos think of tiny in 'Of mice and men'. Three cheers for curious characters.

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