Definition: stubbornly continuing on, despite opposition, difficulty, or danger
Causes: desperation, the belief that one's goal is the only thing worth pursuing, ambition, a need to prove oneself (to others or to oneself), a stubborn nature, obsession, having learned through experience that persistence pays off in the end
Characters in Literature: Scarlett O'Hara, Gollum, Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption)
Positives: Persistent people have great will power. They will do whatever it takes to achieve the goal. When discomfort, inconvenience, or pain would sidetrack some, Persistents are not distracted from their purpose. They have incredible focus, always keeping the prize in their sights. In this way, persistence as a character trait is admired and envied. We can't help but be impressed by someone who perseveres against circumstances that would defeat the average person.
Negatives: Because of their single-mindedness, Persistents often become consumed by their desire. Everything else is peripheral: career, relationships, morals. They are so focused on the goal that everything else falls to the wayside. Persistents are often stubborn to a fault, refusing to give up even when the pursuit of their goal becomes destructive. They don't heed the advice of others, and sacrifice common sense for obsession. Though the goal may be noble, a Persistent's way of pursuing if is often less than honorable.
Common Portrayals: revolutionaries, millionnaires, CEOs, military and world leaders, valedictorians, love interests, visionaries
Cliches to Avoid: The thwarted, often-rejected love interest whose persistence pays off in winning over the hero/heroine; the rags to riches story; the student with many strikes against him whose single-minded focus on his education gets him his diploma or degree
Twists on the Traditional Persistent:
- We often see the story told of the young man or woman with no advantages remaining persistent in the pursuit of their goal. But the well-to-do have their own set of hardships. What about an affluent or successful person having to overcome their own particular set of difficulties to achieve something hard to obtain?
- The goal is usually something high and lofty: success in education or business, getting the guy/girl, riches. But persistence can be exemplified in the pursuit of something smaller, too: buying one's first house, accepting oneself, making the varsity team, overcoming addiction. If the goal is seemingly impossible for your character, it's something worth striving for, no matter how insignificant others might consider it.
- Persistence isn't always applied to the pursuit of admirable things. Remember that the villain and his persistence in his unsavory goals will also have a big impact on your story.
Conflicting Characteristics to Make your Persistent Unique or More Interesting: compassionate, fearful, weak-willed, contented, unintelligent, polite