Random Positive Trait Creator Success in Excel

As I’ve mentioned before, I purchased Ackerman and Puglisi’s excellent Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes a few weeks ago.

There are a lot of positive traits, I must say.  They have these columns listing them, and then there’s four different categories.

ACHIEVEMENT
IDENTITY
INTERACTIVE
MORAL

So, you pick from each category.
Me, I hate all that choice. There are 80 traits in the interactive category alone. I dunno, I gotta pick one from each?

Enter Excel!
I entered the traits into Excel (I won’t say how, but it’s pretty obvious) and stuck a random number generator at the top in cell A2, which looks like:

=ROUND(RAND()*(44-1)+1+3,0)

That gives me a range from cell A4 to A47, where I have the Achievement traits. Note that the random number generator creates an integer with up to 3 decimal places, so I use the round to round it off. If you don’t have that, when you try to grab the integer later it won’t have a good cell address.

Then for the paydirt, the thing that grabs whatever it is out of the column according to whatever the random number generator created.

In cell A1, I have this:

=INDIRECT(“A”&A2)

I copy the formulas across 4 columns with the numbers adjusted for the stuff in the column.

This gives me the result:

Idealistic Honorable Introverted Obedient

Some of the positive traits aren’t compatible with others, but I haven’t figured out a simple way to tell it “don’t use these results, they’re wrong!” I certainly could program it to do VBA and put in a string after each term with the opposites that may cause conflict, i.e. for Analytical, these traits aren’t usually compatible: adaptable, adventurous, illogical, impulsive, melodramatic, paranoid, sentimental.

Or just eyeball the result and decide on my own without a machine’s help. I can also program it to randomly select the negative traits, as well.  Ultimately, it’s a nice starting point.

Look!

Alert Enthusiastic Whimsical Humble

Don’t mind me, but I couldn’t help but see that you were standing over here with a blog. I love blogs! Maybe you could paint it blue.

Creative Optimistic Flamboyant Responsible

That one doesn’t look real. Creative AND responsible? Doesn’t fit the stereotype.

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4 thoughts on “Random Positive Trait Creator Success in Excel

  1. Oh my God, I LOVE this. Going to have to give it a shot. Sometimes random generation is the best generation.

    It might be good to give a shot to something that doesn’t fit the stereotype or doesn’t seem particularly compatible, anyhow. Writerly muscle flexing. Just to see if it can be made to work.

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  2. Was trying to break out neg traits tonight but no success yet. The fun thing is to put challenging traits together. You may end up with Gollum syndrome-he had two personalities, one mild, helpful, obsequious, and the other violent, calculating, devious, jealous and sneaky. You can also get someone who appears law abiding on the outside but is rebellious on the inside or impulsive.

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  3. Ha! Not Greek, but Excel. It’s just a tool, and the purpose of this post was to point the way for anyone else wanting to do the same thing, have a random character generator. It’s useful as a way to quickly throw ideas in on new characters, and the randomness of it can suggest combinations I’d never put together. Ever met someone that you started learning things about and found out they had an opposite trait, something that didn’t gibe with the assumed character you had made up about them? An oil worker roughneck who grows bonsai trees. A marine drill instructor who learns ballet. Or someone with character traits that create a new flavor all their own.

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