I'm a nice person. Kindness personified. Really. *blink*
I will do anything for a friend, and do it with a smile on my face, happy to be of assistance in whatever way I can. Need me to pick up your newspaper and mail while you're on vacation? No problem! Stuck at work and can't get your sick kid from school? Just call the principal and tell them to expect me. Want me to check that essay for typos before you hand it over to your freshman composition teacher? Glad to do it.
Let you win at a board game?
Uh...not so much. (Though I will smile as I beat the pants off you.)
I admit it. I may be *cough* very slightly, um, competitive.
Okay, okay...my family tells me I'm cut-throat ruthless when it comes to games like Scrabble. Or Monopoly. Or Clue. Or Life. Or... well, you get the idea.
I don't want to be. I want to be nice about it. I want to simply take joy in the camaraderie of the shared experience, to laugh and joke, and occasionally blow an opportunity to score big and not even care. But...
Not even when my kiddos were little, stuck in the endless-games-of-Candyland phase, could I let myself lose. Which just proves it's a sickness, because what parent in her right mind doesn't cheat to lose that game just so it will finally--for the love of all that's holy!--be over? But, noooo. Not me. By golly, when my kids won at Candyland, they knew they had won!
My win-at-any-cost nature used to be a source of great conflict for me. It went against my perception of myself as a warm and giving person. But I've come to terms with it. Now I try to look at it as part of my quirky charm: "Oh, that Linda Grimes! Nicest person you'll ever meet. Uh, don't play games with her."
[All of this is not to say I'm poor loser. I'm not. Because, ultimately, I will not lose. We will play...and play...and play...until I win. But even when I am *cough* temporarily not in the lead during a round of games, I never get nasty. I don't throw game pieces or up-end the board. So, really--nice. I'm a totally nice un-loser.]
Now, the pertinent point to this little ramble (you knew there had to be one somewhere, right?) is, it applies to books, too. Characters do not always see themselves the way other characters--or even readers--see them. The discrepancy can be an excellent source of conflict.
And, in writing, conflict is king. :)
When you think about it, my competitiveness isn't such a bad thing. Because I can use the concept of the dichotomy between how we see ourselves (or would like to see ourselves) and how others see us as, say, a character building-block. Literally. Not my character personally, of course, but the characters in my books.
So, really, being cut-throat ruthless isn't so much a personality flaw as it is a work tool.
(Have I mentioned yet I'm also really good at rationalizing?)