Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Traits that Make Me Love a Character

I have no idea what characters other people like or dislike, and I mostly read indie books which means most people haven't heard of the characters I'd be writing about, so this week's topic is just too difficult for me. That's why I've tweaked it!

I've come to realize there are certain things that usually make me immediately start to love a character. I'm not talking the typical personality traits like brooding or sarcastic---those are broad, and a character can be all those things and still be unlikable. These are kind of my more specific ones.

And mostly because I like sprucing up my TTT posts with some pretty book covers, I've included some books with characters who embody these particular traits. In fact, most of these characters have numerous of these traits since these are some of my absolute favorites for a reason, but including every character for every trait would just get confusing :-P

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I altered the topic a bit, so my topic is:

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Traits that Make Me Love a Character

House of Royals by Keary Taylor | books, reading, book covers
The Key to Erebus by Emma V. Leech | books, reading, book covers
Soul Breaker by Clara Coulson | books, reading, book covers
Incubus by Amanda Meuwissen | books, reading, book covers
The Nightlife San Antonio by Travis Luedke | books, reading, book covers

10. They’re Self Aware

They’re introspective and know their flaws, their fears, etc., which makes them more capable of taking responsibility for things and changing.
Character with This Trait: Alivia from House of Royals Series by Keary Taylor

9. They’re Emotional

I can’t stand emotionless characters. I love when characters have emotions and aren’t afraid of them because that makes them real and relatable.
Character with This Trait: Jehenne from Les Corbeaux: The French Vampire Legend by Emma V. Leech

8. They Have Respect for Everyone, Regardless of Age, Gender, Race, Etc.

This should be a given, and most protagonists are not racist, sexist, ageist, etc., but some are, and these things can be subtle, and some characters seem to shine with this trait more than others.
Character with This Trait: Cal from City of Crows Series by Clara Coulson

7. They’re Understanding and Accepting of Others

This may seem similar to the above, but it’s a more personal thing. These are the characters who can know a person’s individual flaws and still not judge them for them.
Character with This Trait: Sasha from The Incubus Saga by Amanda Meuwissen

6. They’re Honest

I’m talking brutally honest. Honesty is HUGE to me, so I’m talking those characters who don’t play games, the ones who say what they mean and mean what they say.
Character with This Trait: Adrian from The Nightlife San Antonio by Travis Luedke

The Selection by Kiera Cass | books, reading, book covers
The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason | books, reading, book covers
The Ghost and the Graveyard by Genevieve Jack | books, reading, book covers
The Shifter by Janice Hardy | books, reading, book covers
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg | books, reading, book covers

5. They Stand Up for Themselves

They don’t let people tell them what to do, they don’t take crap from alpha males, they stand up for their choices, their bodies, their lives.
Character with This Trait: America from The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

4. They Have Their Priorities Straight

They don’t get overdramatic about little things, they don’t worry about looking pretty when someone’s dying, they just know what’s important.
Character with This Trait: Victoria from The Gardella Vampire Hunters Series by Colleen Gleason

3. They Get Proactive and Make Things Happen Instead of Waiting for Help

Instead of waiting around for an opportunity, they make their own opportunities. But they’re also willing to accept help when they need it because everyone needs it sometimes.
Character with This Trait: Grateful from Knight Games Series by Genevieve Jack

2. Their Greatest Strength is Their Mind

These are the characters who are ridiculously intelligent and observant, the ones who piece things together, figure things out, get creative, come up with solutions, and are always ten steps ahead of everyone.
Character with This Trait: Jeatar from The Healing Wars Series by Janice Hardy

1. They’re Just Themselves and Don’t Care What People Think

These are the characters who are quirky or weird or different or don’t care what’s socially acceptable because they’re just going to be their true, honest selves, and what other people might think doesn’t even factor in.
Character with This Trait: Emery from The Paper Magician Series by Charlie N. Holmberg


Talk to me!

What traits make YOU like a character?


Your Thoughts


28 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Traits that Make Me Love a Character

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  1. imyril

    Great twist on this week’s topic – and I can get behind the traits you call out (although I’m happy to read a story about a protagonist learning to be like this, to a point – they have to have some things going for them from the off)!

    It’s taken me some blog-hopping this morning to find 2-3 characters that apparently it’s unusual to dislike (who knew?) so I put a twist on my post too and talked about villains (who doesn’t like a good antagonist?)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I’m glad you agree with my choices. I definitely agree with what you’re saying though about a character starting out imperfect and growing into some of these traits. That works too. And at least I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what characters other people dislike lol. And I love me a good antagonist, so I’ll be stopping by your post!

  2. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    YAS. I love MCs that have their priorities straight. This is relation to some girl/boy. If the world is ending or something, you should NOT be worried about Tommy Baker asking you to prom. Ugh.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol exactly. It’s so aggravating when someone’s dying or they’re in the middle of an apocalypse but they’re all, “Oh no, I need to reapply my lip gloss or Tommy will think I’m a slob!” or the ever-present, “The building is about to collapse and we have 30 seconds to get out? This is the perfect time to have sex!”

  3. Allyson

    I have taken to scrolling down this week and seeing what books are on the list before I start reading the actual list. I was really worried when I saw The Shifter on here! I was bracing myself to not get too mad about what was about to be said. I am glad to see I was preparing in error 🙂 It’s such a great book!

    My TTT.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Hahaha how funny. But nope, you don’t have to worry about me saying bad things about the characters in The Shifter because those are some of the most lovable characters ever!

  4. Greg

    I like your take on this week. I like characters that stand up for themselves too and don’t need “alpha males” to swoon over, if it’s a woman… I don’t get that (but I’m not exactly the intended audience either LOL so there’s that). 😛 But yeah these are good traits.

    I see you mentioned the Gardella books by Gleason. I’ve only read The Clockwork series by her but the two female protags in those books are pretty empowered too- probably pretty similar. Speaking of which I still have to read the third one… I started but drifted…

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! But please, I *am* the target audience, and the whole swoony alpha male craze makes me concerned for society. So I love when females just ignore their alpha crap and tell them off and then go do their own thing lol.

      I’ll probably be mentioning that series a lot from now on since I love it, and I tend to mention my favorite series a lot because, you know, they’re my favorites lol. I’d also be willing to try some of her others, though I don’t know what the Clockwork one is about.

      1. Greg

        The Clockwork Scarab and sequels are probably YA versions of the Gardella books, more or less. Although they’re steampunkish too a bit, not sure if Gardella is? They’re okay, a vampire hunter and a descendant of Sherlock Holmes against cults and stuff- and a guy goes back in time to their era, not sure where that story is going. 🙂

        It always surprises me a bit when bloggers who love strong female characters also rave about alpha dude this or whatever- I mean aren’t they equals? They just seem at odds- but I haven’t read a ton of UF so maybe there’s more than I see, but it does come to mind…

        1. Kristen Burns

          I am going to look into her other series once I finish the Gardella ones (though I think I still have five left, if I include the spin-off of who I’m guessing is the MC’s daughter). I’ve not had good luck enjoying steampunk so I don’t know if that series would be for me… but maybe I would enjoy it if Gleason were writing it? Maybe that’s the key to me enjoying steampunk, haha.

          That’s a good point! How can one like strong, female characters but then swoon over the alpha males who control female characters? I have a low tolerance threshold for alpha males in books. And in real life. Lol. I suppose there are some cases in which there can be somewhat of a balance, like a give and take, but eh, I still prefer characters to be equals.

  5. Bookworm Brandee

    Hear, hear, Kristen! And thanks for including books/characters that embody the characteristics you love. I agree with everything on your list but I’m particularly fond of #3 and #1! I do get turned off quickly to characters who whine and wait for someone else to make decisions/take action for their problems. Ugh!

    1. Kristen Burns

      🙂 I’m glad you agree with my list. I had such a hard time choosing which one to put as #1 though! So #3-1 are kind of all my #1 lol. I can’t remember… did you ever say you were interested in reading the House of Royals series, or did I make that up? Because that character is also great about getting proactive.

      1. Bookworm Brandee

        YES! I do want to read the House of Royals…in fact, I have the first book patiently waiting on me. 😉 It’s good to know that character is proactive…I’ll try to squeeze it in sooner than later!

  6. Lola

    I also read a lot of indie books, so I also would’ve had trouble with this top ten list. I really like your alternative topic though! And yes these are all traits I also love to see in characters. Honesty is one I really value, especially with how many book have miscommunication or lack of communication, it’s great to encounter a honest and open character. I also love caring, gentle people who care about others and/ or animals. And I want to feel the characters their emotions, it’s hard to care about characters and/or the romance if you don’t feel it. I recently had a book that fell flat for that reason, it was a great plot and story, but I just didn’t feel it. Great list!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Honest and open characters are the best. You’re right, caring characters are great too. I probably should’ve included that lol.

      I’ve definitely had that problem with emotionless characters. If the character I’m experiencing things through just glosses over everything with no emotion, I don’t end up feeling the emotion either. Like, that’s how it works for me with books, I feel *through* the characters.