Something happened the other day that made me think of all the times I’ve been told I’m charismatic. Now I’ll be honest, I really don’t see how that’s true. I mean yeah, I know how to be entertaining and to get people laughing and provide what I like to call, “social lubrication,” in most situations, but I never thought of that as charismatic.
So what is everyone seeing that I’m not?
What brought this all to mind, was when a friend of mine who’d gotten around to reading an advanced copy of No Rest for the Wicked I’d given him told me that he like my protagonist Nico because he was charismatic.
There’s that word again.
Now it would make sense that if I was a charismatic person I would then end up writing charismatic characters without even trying. It would be a natural instinct for me.
This is kind of embarrassing to admit but, it turns out that until I actually went and did a little research, I didn’t actually understand what charisma was.
My entire life I always imagined charisma to be this:
A very well dressed, very smooth man, captivating a room like James Bond here. A smooth talker, the lady’s man, someone who with the wave of a hand could produce all the things he ever wanted.
Despite cleaning up well, I never really thought I fit into that category.
If any of you knew me in real life, you would know that once I get a question or mystery in my head, I need to find the answer to it or I’ll never rest. So after a night through Google and other sources of information I learned something very surprising and strange to me.
I am very charismatic and that everything in that picture that I thought was charismatic, were simply things that increase one’s ability to enact their charisma.
As it turns out, charisma is actually much subtler, and I suppose a much gentler, quality than I thought it was. Because what seems to be the most charismatic people, employ this mysterious charisma in a very understated way.
It all comes down to the idea of connection. Charismatic people know how to connect, not only themselves to others, but other people to other people.
They’re the ones who bring a conversation or interaction away from the surface level of small talk and well-natured civility into actual authentic and genuine interaction.
They’re the ones who call each other on their bullshit (gently of course), they’re the ones who are the first to take that nerve-wracking step into authenticity, romantically or platonically.
Now, once with that understanding I went back and thought over myself and realized that one quality I had would definitely breed charisma.
I very rarely care about what people think about me. Whatever others may or may not be thinking in my general direction isn’t any of my business unless spoken, and even then it’s only a passing fancy.
I won’t lie, I like when I received praise or when people agree with me, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter that much to me because, in my head, I’m the only one I answer to.
This general sense of not caring about how I may be perceived just opens me up to all kinds of interactions the more timid of the like wouldn’t even dare breach. I’m not afraid to get into a philosophical, creative, or whatever discussion with anyone. I mean sure, I will avoid religion and politics only because 1), they don’t interest me much and 2) nothing good ever comes of it.
Mix that in with my generally aggressive/assertive personality, and I could see how the charisma would start to shine through.
Not only am I more likely to take control of a conversation/situation, but I’m also more likely to push it in the direction of a true connecting experience.
Now, I’m sure at this point you’re thinking I wrote this just to toot my own horn, but you’re wrong. I brought this up because this whole thought process here lends itself to writing extremely well.
Take the whole thought process I went through to decide if I was charismatic or not, and apply it to your characters.
The conversation doesn’t have to be about charisma, but anything.
Say you’re writing a romance novel and one of the main love interests typically isn’t that motivated, but when they feel something is important to them, they’d go through hell or high water to make sure they got it.
Mix that in with a little bit of tenderness for their love interest and you’ve suddenly got someone who would go through anything for the person they love in such a subtle and surprising way that the character themselves would even be surprised if they were a real person.
See where I’m going with this?
Just because your character has a particular quality or tendency about them it does not mean it’s conscious or even that obvious until the situation arises. Others may notice even though the character is not.
So this post goes out to all the people who inadvertently have on quality or another, and how interesting this can make them.
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m nuts? Whatever you do think, please leave your thoughts below in the comments section.
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