Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What is Charisma?

From Wikipedia...

Although difficult or even impossible to define accurately (due to an abundance of wildly diverse criteria in regard to the trait), charisma is often used to describe an elusive, even undefinable personality trait that often includes the seemingly 'supernatural' or uncanny ability to lead, charm, persuade, inspire, and/or influence people. It refers especially to a quality in certain people who easily draw the attention and admiration (or even hatred if the application of such charisma is perceived to be negative) of others due to a 'magnetic' quality of personality and/or appearance...

Despite the strong emotions they so often induce in others, charismatic individuals generally project unusual calmness, confidence, assertiveness, dominance, authenticity, and focus, and almost always possess superb communication and/or oratorical

This subject has been on my mind as you may already know if you've read my personal blog. How do you define charisma? How do you make your characters charismatic? Is it an acquired trait or is it just there? Do we love and adore characters who don't have it? Or is it a necessity in literature?

Last night I was watching American Idol and Adam Lambert sang a remake of Johnny Cash's, "Ring of Fire." It was very weird, but incredible at the same time, and I thought to myself, there is somebody with charisma. Oodles and oodles of it. The judges were so mixed in their opinions, but I had to laugh when Kara said, "It was strange and left me confused and happy." I thought to myself, ditto. It would have been incredible strange if anyone else had performed it, but because it was Adam it was awesome!

I think it's that way in writing sometimes. The truly charismatic characters can get away with murder (literally), and yet we still find ourselves drawn to them. One character can say something outrageous and conceited and we love him, while a different character could say the exact same thing and we would think he was a slime ball. Charisma is just one more subjective, elusive issue we deal with as writers and sometimes we write our characters with it and sometimes no matter how hard we try it evades us.


  1. Yes, I love your bad guy. He is sooo charismatic. He makes me love and hate him all at the same time. It's awesome. I have a certain bad guy that I love to hate too. And as for Adam, I love him despite is gruesomely strange performance last night. I need to steal some of his charm for some of my characters.

  2. You know, Kasie and I had a talk about this. She is an Adam fan and I am a Danny fan. We agreed to disagree. LOL But even I have to admit... there is something bizarre about Adam. When he started singing that last night I was like... "Ohhh--Kayy..." LOL but, somehow he pulled it off. I don't know how, it was just plain weird, but he did it.

    So kudos to Adam... now would you get out of my Danny's way please? :P

  3. I just realized that nothing in my post related to characters... oh well, yeah... charisma is good :) lol

  4. Ok, so I totally had American Idol DVR'd and had to watch it just so knew what you where talking about! Adam reminds me of David Cook from last year. Weird but he pulls it off. When i think of charisma I think of Tim McGraw. When I first heard his music, I liked it, it was ok. I had seen a picture of two of him, I didn't think he was all that...until I saw him in concert. That boy has charisma. There is nothing to explain the quality that exudes from him, except charisma. I had never thought about that as being a factor for my characters before. Now that I think about it, maybe that's why I like the dad in my story out of all my characters. Maybe it's the charisma he has, but I didn't do it on purpose, I'm not sure I could do it on purpose! LOL! Thanks, I liked this post alot.

  5. Oh, and I'm with Jenn...GO DANNY!!

  6. I am trying to get charisma (since I am the narrator/main character in all my books). Doing a video and just putting myself out there is helping me develope it! Like in writing! We just have to just put ourselves out there! Great post! Thanks:)

  7. Napoleon is a great choice for a charismatic character. What about Jack Sparrow?! I mean, he is what made the last two Pirates draw ANY crowd. I will have to find an internet video of Adam. I watched a few audition episodes, and I knew right away that HE was going far. He has a lot of the same charm David Cook had, who was (he-hem) from Kansas City. Great post!

  8. Okay, so apparently I'm very out of the Idol loop. The guy I thought was Adam is actually Danny. Danny reminded me of David Cook as a matter of fact. Is that eyeliner?

  9. You are sooo not out of the loop! I have no idea who you all are talking about (We haven't had cable for the past 13 years) but I got the jist! :)

  10. Jessie, the first character with charisma that I thought of was Jack Sparrow. He's awesome!

    And, ladies, I have to add my two cents about Idol. All I have to say about Adam's Ring of Fire is: ???

    I have to say *braces for attack* I totally agree with Simon on that one.

    I'm for Anoop Dog!! All the way! (him, or Kris Allen. He makes me giggle like a blushing school girl.)

  11. Yes, Jessie and Renee, Jack Sparrow definitely has it, despite the eyeliner. LOL! I have to agree that Adam is weird, but I still thought his singing was amazing.

    Renee, Alas I think we've found something that we don't think exactly the same on. What will I do? :)



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