7 Deadly Sins of Narcissism

Jan 5, 2024 | History & Psychology, Writing

Narcissus admiring his reflection in the lake, moments before he drowns in its waters (he so loved his own reflection, you see)

A crucial step I take prior to writing any novel is to understand all of my main characters fully. That means turning them into proper, 3-dimensional characters, with their goals, their strengths, their flaws, their fears, their dreams, their prejudices, their traumas… You get the picture.

“To plot, you need to know what people care about, and why.” ~Mastering Plot Twists, by Jane K. Cleland*

I do the same for my antagonists–the very people (or creatures) whose desires will war with those of my leads (aka the villains). For the stronger the opposing forces, the stronger the novel, as readers need to see the hero work and suffer to accomplish his goals, or it’s not a satisfying tale. And everyone loves a good villain!

A key attribute that many villains have in common, besides being sociopathic, is their narcissism. According to Sandy Hotchkiss in her book Why is it Always About You?*, here are the seven deadly sins of narcissism:

  1. Shamelessness – the person shows no humility or shame for any of their actions
  2. Magical Thinking – the person believes they’re flawless, God’s gift to the universe
  3. Arrogance – the person’s conceited, and a braggart
  4. Envy – the person will put down others to make themselves look good in comparison, no matter how egregious the assertions
  5. Entitlement – the person expects others to give them whatever they desire, no questions asked, even if unearned
  6. Exploitation – the person will walk all over others to get what they want, and has plenty of knives to stick in people’s backs if needed
  7. Bad Boundaries – the person sees others as belonging to them, as their serfs, there to do their bidding.

Interestingly, a narcissist will therefore often be blind to what might appear evident to most others (the world, after all, doesn’t actually revolve around them and their wishes). And this can create a lot of delicious (or, in my case, hair-raising) conflict!

Do you have any characters who are narcissists? If so, which of these deadly sins is most prominent in them?

*Disclosure: Affiliate links above are marked with asterisks (*). As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases a small percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you