Definition: Cautious or circumspect; to withhold from a place of doubt, mistrust or fear
Characters in Literature: Lucius Malfoy (Harry Potter); Brimstone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone); Roland Deschain of Gilead (The Gunslinger/Dark Tower Series)
Common Portrayals: Politicians, policemen, military personnel, criminals, prisoners of wars, battered women, abused or neglected children, leaders bearing sole responsibility for people that are at a disadvantage or at risk in some way
Clichés to Avoid: The lone, tortured hero with no past; mentally ill patients mistrusting their doctors; paranoid governments unable to work together to settle on a critical life-or-death issue yet must for the plot to succeed; the character who becomes guarded because of a crippling romantic betrayal or loss
Twists on the Traditional Guarded Character:
- With heroes, a guarded personality type is often accompanied with strong intuition, heightened observation skills and sometimes fast reflexes, all of which allow them to act quickly even though a guarded nature should say otherwise. Make it harder on your survivalist hero or villain by not giving them ultra-developed intuition or physical attributes that overpower the negatives of a guarded trait.
- Place the naturally secretive or guarded character in a situation that demands trust and openness to succeed.
- Guarded characters usually embrace this side of their nature, believing it to be a trait of survival. Why not create a character who does not like feeling that he must question before choosing and dislikes holding back before trusting. Let his quest to let go of his guarded nature become part of his character arc (but not via romantic elements).
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