Character Trait Entry: Brave

Definition: fearlessness in the face of adversity or danger


Causes: an inherent belief that fear should never limit or dictate a response; growing up in the shadow of bravery, especially during a time of great turmoil (e.g.: having a revered uncle who bravely served his country as a pilot in WW II); an extreme belief in one's own abilities, skills and fortitude; a high tolerance to pain; strong role-modelling (such as parents and relatives that serve in the military, or as police/fireman, etc); a need to consistently challenge and prove oneself as worthy; selflessness; a deep moral center of right and wrong

Characters in Literature: Batman; Captain America; Lan Mandragoran & Galad Damordred  (The Wheel of Time); Nevile Longbottom (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows); Rambo

Positives: Brave characters are often viewed as heroic, and are willing to face hardship and danger because it is 'the right thing to do'. These Braves are natural leaders, inspire others and selflessly do what is required. Others gravitate to this personality and admire them for their fearlessness. Braves do not obsess about possible negative consequences or outcomes--they see a need, make a moral judgement and then act, often placing themselves at peril to keep others from suffering. Braves place the goal above all else, and are unwavering in their determination to achieve it.

Negatives: Because of the attention, hero-worship and high pedestal others place them on, Braves can be susceptible to pride, which can lead them down the dark ego path of  vanity or arrogance. Even characters with this trait who remain true to their selfless nature can become pawns to others who would use their bravery to achieve their own ends. Brave characters can place their trust in others too quickly because of the belief that they too have the same motivation and sense of right and wrong.

Common Portrayals: Soldiers, Policemen, Firemen, Superheroes, Warriors, Hunters


Cliches to Avoid:  the hero who is so brave he is blind to the corruption of the people he works for; the brave hero with a secret death wish; the superhero whose resulting fame causes egotism & the eventual 'fall from grace/comeuppance' as a result

Twists on the Traditional Brave:  
  •  We see a lot of 'brave' but not 'smart' characters. Give us a character who is both! 
  • Bravery is acting without fear, courage is acting despite fear. Think of the saying, 'to fear is to live'.  A complex twist on a brave character would be to have them feel something is missing because they do not feel fear. 
  • Bravery does not have to equate into a character who is big and strong or physically fit. Show us a character who is naturally brave, but his body is compromised, yet rather than have to 'prove himself', he naturally has respect of the people around him.
Conflicting Characteristics to Make your Brave Unique or More Interesting: Eccentric, Modest, Witty, Proper, Disorganized


18 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

Love that you included Neville - my favourite kind of brave! :)

Michael Horvath said...

I like the definitions separating courage from bravery.

Bish Denham said...

Bravery has a lot to do with doing even when you are afraid.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post. I love the twists--especially the brave person who isn't so physically able to actualize the braveness.

R. E. Hunter said...

Thanks, another great post.

Allow me one little nitpick: in the Causes paragraph, I believe you should have e.g. in brackets (meaning "for example"), not i.e. (meaning "in other words"), as you're giving an example, not an alternate definition.

Angela Ackerman said...

Good catch, R.E! Thanks!

R. E. Hunter said...

You're welcome, Angela. These things always jump out at me, I don't look for them (I think it's part of my Asperger's). If you ever need proofreading, let me know. I don't do it professionally (and my time is limited), but maybe I could trade it for some future help on my novel, if I ever get that far. 8^)

Susan Fields said...

"Bravery is acting without fear, courage is acting despite fear" - I never thought of that distinction before. Very interesting!

Traci Kenworth said...

Love this type of character. I've tried to make my hero both brave and smart.

Heather said...

I love this, especially the part about how you said bravery doesn't mean the character has to be big and strong. So true, look at Katniss after all.

Leslie Rose said...

Brave and smart! I'm going to have to nominate Dr. Who. No matter what dangers he faces in the universe, he is always brave and compassionate.

Becca Puglisi said...

I think Sylvester Stallone was brave for doing that last Rambo movie. And I think Angela was brave for using a Rambo 2008 stillshot pic of a super studly one from First Blood.

#drooly

*shakes head at Angela*

Stella Telleria said...

Brave and smart, a deadly combo!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Great breakdown, Angela! Especially love that last bit of advice showing ways to revamp the cliches.

Nicole said...

Love that you mention Lan and Galad. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

The character trait list is getting awesomely long. And by the time I'm ready to edit my first draft, you might have added some new ones that are better for some of my characters than what I originally came up with. :)

Biddy Fraser said...

A lot of food for thought here. And loved that picture of Gandalf! It is Gandalf?

Janet B Taylor said...

Truer words were never spoken-- Brave but Stupid doesn't play-
It's acting when you don't want to--THAT's a real hero. And Neville has ALWAYS been one of my VERY favorite characters of all time!

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