While one trait does not make a character, it can distinguish him/her from the others in the same series. This is especially so when the character is well-written and well-developed.
Character strengths can be utilised in a manner that makes your character unique, while being a propelling force for your story.
A good example would be how Suzanne Collins wrote Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy.
This article will be making reference to both the book and the movie.
Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games
For those who are unfamiliar with The Hunger Games, the series is set in a dystopian future, where twelve districts (poorer relative to the Capitol) send one girl and one boy for the yearly Hunger Games. These twelve children from the ages of 12-18 are forced to fight to the death, survive and return back to their district with food and supplies. It is mainly to entertain those in the Capitol, while simultaneously reminding everyone of the Capitol’s power, quelling any hopes of rebellion.
The series follows Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old in District 12 who volunteers as tribute when her younger sister, Prim gets chosen for the Games.
This is one of the many instances where Collins highlighted bravery as part of Katniss’s personality. By showing how Katniss is brave from the beginning, readers and viewers (of the movie) start to associate bravery as one of Katniss’s main traits and strengths (but also weakness in certain situations).
Collins does this from the start of the book/film by portraying Katniss to be a rule-breaker of sorts, illegally hunting for game in order to provide for her family in one of the poorest districts. It's important to note that she isn't doing this for the sake of being edgy, or because she's necessarily rebellious, but because she loves her family and took it upon herself to provide and care for them.
She then moves on to highlight Katniss’s courageousness by showing how the latter volunteered as tribute in place of Prim, despite being afraid herself.
Throughout the series, Katniss has to face many painful obstacles, and Collins showed how Katniss took control and faced them. Especially when we get to the parts where she struggles to cope with her losses (for instance, Peeta's kidnapping and Prim's death) and come to terms with her past.
Katniss becomes a character that we root for, not because she’s the protagonist, but because of her personality, values and beliefs. She is raw, vulnerable and yet strong. We empathise with her as the series progresses. While we may not always agree with her decisions, we understand why she behaved the way she did.
Katniss’s character profile is distinguished and well-developed, which gives the readers and viewers an easier time to analyse her character and follow her as she changes and develops throughout the series.
Writing a brave character
You have to chart out how such characteristics contribute to your character’s arc and the story.
To highlight the bravery of your character, have them face their fears and certain obstacles. They do not have to be physical, but can be mental or emotional as well. Make them fail and learn from their mistakes. Show how their courageousness can be a double-edged sword. Do they end up being reckless and brash? Do they tend to jump to conclusions or resort to violence or self-destructiveness when placed in a negative situation?