How do you write OVERconfidence?:

Total posts: [6]
I'm writing this character named Justin. After thinking through the plot for the story and writing loads of scenes, I realized something:

Justin's actions and choices throughout the story would all make a LOT more sense if he were a bit of an overconfident jerk. Not an arrogant asshole - he's a nice guy at heart - just pretty darn cocky.

The thing is I have no idea how to write an overconfident character. I can write the thought process of an awkward, uncertain, reluctant nerd very accurately because I am one. But I'm worried that I'll make Justin unrealistic; I'm afraid all his thoughts will be some variant of 'I can do anything, ha ha ha!' Superficially, I know that overconfident people don't think like that, but when I put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) that's all I can think of.

Some help would be really appreciated. Thanks.

edited 29th Sep '12 10:38:14 AM by ComicConAwaits

2 CleverPun29th Sep 2012 01:55:06 AM from Monterey, California
Bully in the Alley
From my experience there are two main types of overconfidence: Overestimating your own abilities, or underestimating risk/danger/situations. They frequently overlap, naturally, but I think it's an important distinction.

A character can still judge situations poorly even if they have a very realistic appraisal of their own skills, and vice-versa.

If you don't want the character to be arrogant, then make them incapable of telling when they're in over their head, rather than merely thinking they're invincible.
A minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.
Not sure how useful this is or whether others will agree but consider the follows:

Overconfidence is all about the person having an unrealistic view of his/her (will be sticking to 'he' here on out) own abilities - namely overestimating his abilities and failing to recognise (at least outwardly) the limits of his own competence. Everything else is entirely up to you.

Now, maybe I'm reading it wrong but from the sounds of it, your major struggle is in figuring out how to make him not abrasive or unlikable; to make him overconfident without being douche. To which, I think doing the following would help:

1. Make sure his unrealistic view is purely about himself. It's not that he thinks others can't do a certain task but rather he feels that he is the best person to do it.

2. Have his heart be in the right place. It's not all some ego trip for him. He honestly and truly wants to help.

3. In the event he fails to accomplish something he set out to do (especially with others having to clean up his mess), have him disappointed/embarrassed/distraught with himself. Not because he realised he isn't as good as he thought he was but that he had let others down, inconvenienced them and/or put them in danger/exposed them to trouble.

In summary, 'overconfidence' is generally seen as an unlikable trait. So, your character will probably need a few positive traits surrounding his overconfidence to compensate for it in order to avoid its negative connotations. A good/possible example to look at is Fred from Scooby Doo.
Dapper Gentleman
My first thought was "Cyclops, if anyone should ask you who it was that tricked you, you can tell them it was Odysseus, Laertes' son, who makes his home in Ithaca!" Our hero almost got pancaked with a boulder for that one.

Overconfidence tends to be the result of success. It goes to your head, and you start to believe that the stars are aligned and you can do no wrong. When you say, "What could possibly go wrong?" you actually mean it unironically. It's sort of like an adrenaline rush combined with a bit of skewed perspective about how things actually happened.
"And every life is a special story of its own." —The Stargazer, Mass Effect 3
Pronounced YAK-you-luss
One thing about overconfidence is that it often suggests you're taking pleasure in what you're doing. You're having fun, so why spoil it by worrying about what might happen? Overconfident folks have a habit of getting wrapped up in the moment and failing to think things through.
What's precedent ever done for us?
Dapper Gentleman
[up]That is essentially a far more coherent and accurate version of what I'd been attempting and failing to say myself earlier. So...yes, I agree! grin
"And every life is a special story of its own." —The Stargazer, Mass Effect 3
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Total posts: 6