Definition: not requiring or relying on others
Causes: trust issues, control issues, shyness, a person who is more comfortable being alone than with other people, a history of oppression or inequality, the belief that one can do things better/more quickly/more efficiently than others, healthy self-confidence, a history of personal success and capability, a desire to be beholden to no one
Characters in Literature: Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), Laura Ingalls Wilder, Han Solo
Positives: Independents see themselves clearly. They know what they can do and are comfortable taking action when others might be cowed. Their past successes prove their capability, so they're able to work alone, and often prefer to do so. Independents are sure of themselves and so aren't overly concerned about the perceptions of others. As a result, they are better able to maintain focus on their goals and the job at hand. They also are often forward-thinkers, moving past the status quo to embrace ideals that are ahead of their time.
Negatives: Because they are so often alone, Independents may have difficult working with or relating to others. Their lack of concern with what others think may create a perception about them of aloofness, smugness, or superiority. Their dependence on self may give loved ones the idea that they aren't needed or even much wanted, and may widen the gap between Independents and the people in their life.
Common Portrayals: women suffragettes, Civil rights leaders, inventors, explorers, geniuses
Cliches to Avoid: the independent, strong-willed, kick-butt woman who doesn't need a man in her life; the loner who claims to need no one, but by the end of the story realizes his need for intimacy with others
Twists on the Traditional Independent:
- Give your Independent the confidence to stand alone, but provide him with a core group of friends/allies whose support and feedback only strengthen him (think William Wallace).
- Rather than making a character independent by nature, what if independence is a trait he must choose in order to meet his goals?
Conflicting Characteristics to make your Independent unique or more interesting: outgoing, popular, doubtful, nervous, obedient, apologetic