Definition: watchful or careful; alert to risk
Characters in Literature: Elrond (Lord of the Rings); Hermione Granger (Harry Potter); Stanley Yelnats (Holes)
Common Portrayals: Parents, politicians worried about voters; health and critical care specialists (surgeons, doctors, nurses and hospital staff); the police, firemen and other first responders; military leaders; publicists; people keeping secrets
Cliches to Avoid: The sheltering parent who practically bubble-wraps their kid before letting them out the door; the teacher or committee that over plans, sucking all the fun out of an event; a cautious character used as a plot device, warning the main character that their reckless ways will land them in deep trouble…and then it does
Twists on the Traditional Cautious Character:
Anyone bearing responsibility for others is naturally cautious. However, few truly dangerous situations allow time to plan. Put a Cautious character responsible for more than himself in a situation with a high stakes and a ramped up ‘ticking clock’, forcing them to act.
Do caution and instinct go hand-in-hand, or do they lay at opposite ends of the spectrum? Explore this relationship with a cautious character–will their instinct lead to caution, or does caution actually hamper their instincts, forcing them to stop and think about the pros and cons rather than act in a way that feels natural?
Build a worthy protagonist with a mix of unique strengths that will help him overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful goals.
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