Develop Plot Ideas: A Combination Of Negative Personality Traits

Posted at 19:28pm on 21st June 2010

My posts, in the last few days, have covered the way in which an aspiring author can use a combination of plot ideas to develop characterisation. For the purposes of demonstrating this aspect of creative writing, I’ve used a classical story taken from the Bible: the tale of Samson and Delilah. Since the entire purpose of this book is to portray the relationship between God and mankind, it is virtually unparalleled when it comes to studying the positive personality traits of a character, and how they may be used to highlight the negative personality traits of another.

This is a particularly useful ploy for aspiring authors.

The Bible is also a great source of plot ideas for novel writing! Just look at how the three themes that make up the ‘plot’ of this story - power, vanity, and greed - combine to make for a compelling read. Used by a contemporary author in the structure of a novel, they would be an absolute winner.

A LUST FOR POWER

To date, I’ve covered Creative Writing Plot Ideas: Dealing With Manipulative People – a post which may also be of help to those who are not authors but are having to deal with difficult relationships; and Developing Plot Ideas To Show Characterisation – an article which demonstrates the part that Show and Tell plays in giving subtle nuances of characterisation. In the latter, I’ve revealed how the positive personality traits of fame and power (Samson’s) were used as a means of showing the characterisation and corruption of Delilah’s character.

Today, I’m going to continue with that idea.

SHOW & TELL

As we’ve already seen, Samson’s back story revealed him to have gone on a killing spree which gave the Philistine rulers good reason to want to kill him in revenge. They’d already tried and failed on at least one occasion, so this time they went to his lover, Delilah, and appealed to her pocket, and her pride. ‘See if you can lure him into giving up the secret of his strength,’ they said to her, promising her a fortune.

Her response, or reaction to that proposal reveals as much about her character as any action on her part. Will she accept or reject what’s on offer? This was one of the creative writing techniques highlighted in the previous article – see above. Using this method of showing your reader the effect on the character means that there is no need to tell them by going into a long description of characterisation.

CHARACTERISATION: VANITY

In an era when women were in subjugation to men, Delilah would have felt flattered that such important people would come to her, rather than summons her to them. In writing the modern story, an author would have to ensure that the character was in keeping with the times. But I think it would be safe to say that, despite the shift in gender equality in Western civilisations, few modern women would have felt any differently.

A second source of flattery is alluded to. These men have failed in their own attempt to bring Samson to heel, but in coming to Delilah they are clearly declaring their confidence in her powers of sexual persuasion. Would this be enough to win Delilah over? In case there should be any doubt about her own negative personality traits, we are shown in the narrative (not told) of the last defining aspect of her character, her greed. What really swung it was the promise of riches beyond her imagination.

Remember at the beginning I said that Samson was set aside by God to be a ‘saviour’ – to deliver the people from the Philistines? Well, here we see Delilah behaving like Judas Iscariot when he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

MODERN PLOT IDEAS

This couldn’t be a more contemporary issue! Freud was not wrong in stating that the world’s view of success revolves around sexuality. Power and money are merely the trappings used by men and women to acquire greater sexual attraction.

In the 21st Century, our faces, our figures, our homes, our cars, our pets – even our children – are seen as commodities that add to and reflect our sex-appeal. We want to have ‘what it takes’. And we’re willing to take whatever it takes to get what we want. So much of the mess we’re in now has come about because of greed and vanity. It’s easy to blame it all on bankers and politicians, but the fact is that consumerism and personal debt is rife in modern society.

That means that this mix of power, greed and vanity makes for good contemporary plot ideas. One with which any reader will identify! And, therefore, one that any aspiring author who do well to perfect.

NEXT TIME:

Delilah’s negative personality traits become the focal point and Samson’s character is seen through his reaction to her actions.
Creative Writing Techniques: Show & Tell To Develop Plot Ideas & Character

Previously:
Developing Plot Ideas To Show Characterisation

Related articles:

Creative Writing Techniques
The Drama Triangle & The Games People Play
Personality Test

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