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Inspiration Decks Character Traits 2023-12-02 00:00

Character Trait: Cautious

Character Trait Cautious

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait "cautious" refers to a person who is careful and thoughtful in their actions and decisions. A cautious individual tends to approach situations with care and consideration, weighing the potential risks and benefits before making a move. They are often reluctant to take unnecessary risks and may prefer to err on the side of caution. This trait can be both an asset and a liability, depending on the situation, but it is generally seen as a valuable quality in many contexts.

Contents:
  1. Possible causes of being cautious
  2. Behaviors associated with being cautious
  3. Attitudes associated with being cautious
  4. Thoughts and struggles associated with being cautious
  5. Emotions associated with being cautious
  6. Facial expressions associated with being cautious
  7. Body language associated with being cautious
  8. Behaviors associated with being cautious
  9. Growth and evolution of cautious characters
  10. Stereotypes of cautious characters to avoid
  11. Negatives of being cautious
  12. Positives of being cautious
  13. Verbal expressions of cautious characters
  14. Relationships of cautious characters
  15. Examples from books of characters who are cautious
  16. Writing exercises for writing cautious characters

Possible causes of being cautious

You might want to weave these into your character's back story to build a more believable character.

  • Anxiety or fear of failure or consequences
  • A desire for control or perfectionism
  • Genetics and brain chemistry
  • Observing or experiencing negative outcomes due to lack of caution
  • Upbringing and parental influences
  • Personal values and priorities
  • A belief that caution is necessary for survival or success
  • Cultural or societal factors that emphasize caution
  • Past negative experiences or trauma that have made them more cautious

For detailed feedback on cautious characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's literary critique platform.

Behaviors associated with being cautious

You may be able to show your character's trait of cautious by using these.

  • Taking time to gather information and analyze it
  • Being slow to make judgments or assumptions
  • Avoiding unnecessary risks and dangers
  • Avoiding risky or impulsive behavior
  • Being attentive and alert to one's surroundings
  • Anticipating potential consequences of actions
  • Double-checking things before making a decision
  • Being hesitant to trust others easily
  • Being prepared for potential dangers or obstacles

Attitudes associated with being cautious

You may be able to show cautious through their attitudes.

  • Hesitation
  • Apprehension
  • Vigilance
  • Deliberation
  • Wariness
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Carefulness
  • Timidity
  • Circumspection
  • Trepidation
  • Reserve
  • Prudence
  • Meticulousness
  • Avoidance

Thoughts and struggles associated with being cautious

Here are some ideas for things your cautious character may think or struggle with.

  • Has a tendency to overthink and analyze situations
  • Constantly second-guesses their decisions and actions
  • May struggle with anxiety or fear of the unknown
  • May have a strong need for control and predictability in their life
  • Fearful of taking risks or trying new things
  • Worries about the consequences of their actions and how they may affect others
  • Struggles with making choices and may become indecisive
  • Can appear hesitant or timid to others
  • May be highly observant and detail-oriented, noticing small details that others may miss

Emotions associated with being cautious

Here are some ideas for emotions your cautious character may experience.

  • Prudence
  • Suspicion
  • Trepidation
  • Apprehension
  • Vigilance
  • Wariness
  • Doubt
  • Hesitancy
  • Carefulness

Facial expressions associated with being cautious

Here are some facial expressions your cautious character may exhibit.

  • Rapid blinking
  • Biting or licking lips
  • Tilting head slightly down
  • Avoiding direct eye contact
  • Furrowed brows
  • Looking around cautiously
  • Pursed lips
  • Clenched jaw
  • Squinting
  • Tightly pressed lips
  • Raising eyebrows slightly
  • Narrowed eyes

Body language associated with being cautious

Here is some body language your cautious character may exhibit.

  • Using non-committal language, such as "maybe" or "I'll think about it"
  • Speaking in a quiet or hesitant voice
  • Standing or sitting with a tense or guarded posture
  • Nervous fidgeting, such as tapping fingers or bouncing knees
  • Taking small, slow steps rather than striding confidently
  • Avoiding eye contact or glancing around frequently
  • Holding back or hesitating before making a move

For detailed feedback on cautious characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's literary critique platform.

Behaviors associated with being cautious

Here are some behaviors your cautious character may exhibit.

  • Avoiding risky or impulsive behavior
  • Anticipating potential consequences of actions
  • Double-checking things before making a decision
  • Being hesitant to trust others easily
  • Avoiding unnecessary risks and dangers
  • Taking time to gather information and analyze it
  • Being attentive and alert to one's surroundings
  • Being prepared for potential dangers or obstacles
  • Being slow to make judgments or assumptions

Growth and evolution of cautious characters

Here are some ways that your cautious character may grow and evolve over time.

  • Overcoming their fear of taking risks or trying new things
  • Developing a more optimistic outlook on life and their future
  • Letting go of past mistakes or failures that may be holding them back
  • Recognizing when caution is necessary and when it is holding them back
  • Developing a better understanding of their own limitations and strengths
  • Learning to trust others and rely on their support
  • Becoming more assertive and decisive in their actions and interactions
  • Learning to handle unexpected situations and adapt to changes more effectively
  • Developing confidence in their own abilities and decision-making skills

Stereotypes of cautious characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical cautious character like these examples.

  • Portraying the character as weak or timid in every situation
  • Over-exaggerating the character's need for control or order
  • Making the character a complete pessimist with no hope or positivity
  • Making the character overly paranoid or fearful
  • Portraying the character as indecisive or hesitant in every situation
  • Making the character overly anxious or stressed in every situation

Negatives of being cautious

Here are some potential negatives of being cautious. Note: These are subjective and some might also be seen as positives depending on the context.

  • Missed opportunities
  • Paralysis by analysis
  • Inability to take risks
  • Overthinking and indecisiveness
  • Lack of spontaneity
  • Tendency to be too self-critical
  • Difficulty adapting to change

Positives of being cautious

Here are some potential positives of being cautious. Note: These are subjective and some might also be seen as negatives depending on the context.

  • Encourages thorough planning and preparation
  • Promotes responsible and careful behavior
  • Allows for thoughtful decision-making
  • Helps avoid potential danger or harm
  • Can lead to better outcomes and results
  • Encourages attention to detail
  • Fosters a sense of accountability
  • Helps identify and assess risks

Verbal expressions of cautious characters

Here are some potential expressions used by cautious characters.

  • "Maybe we should wait and gather more information."
  • "I'm hesitant to make a decision without more data."
  • "What are the potential risks involved?"
  • "I don't want to jump to conclusions."
  • "I want to be careful not to make any mistakes."
  • "I'm not sure if..."
  • "Let's take a step back and think about this."
  • "Let's consider all possible outcomes before moving forward."

Relationships of cautious characters

Here are some ways that being cautious could affect your character's relationships.

  • They may be risk-averse, avoiding situations or people that they perceive as potentially dangerous or risky.
  • They are often hesitant to trust others, so they may have difficulty forming new relationships or may take longer to develop trust in others.
  • Cautious people tend to be introverted, so they may have a small circle of close friends and family members.
  • Cautious people may be seen as reliable and dependable by others, as they are careful and thoughtful in their actions and decisions.
  • Cautious individuals may be very observant, paying close attention to the actions and words of others to determine their trustworthiness.
  • They may be slow to open up emotionally to others, preferring to keep their feelings to themselves until they feel safe and secure.

Examples from books of characters who are cautious

  • Hermione Granger from the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling
  • Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
  • Sherlock Holmes from the series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Jane Eyre from the novel by Charlotte Bronte
  • Bilbo Baggins from "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Holden Caulfield from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • Frodo Baggins from "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Eeyore from "Winnie-the-Pooh" by A.A. Milne
  • Katniss Everdeen from "The Hunger Games" series by Suzanne Collins

Writing exercises for writing cautious characters

Here are some writing exercises you might try for learning to write cautious characters.

  • Consider some scenarios where caution might be an asset. For example, a cautious character might be the only one who notices a potential danger or has the patience to solve a complex problem.
  • Think about a character from your writing that could benefit from this trait. Is there a protagonist who tends to act impulsively? Or maybe a supporting character who is always pushing others to take risks?
  • Create a character who embodies caution to an extreme degree. This could be an interesting foil for a more impulsive character, or a source of tension in a group dynamic.
  • Use sensory detail to convey the physical sensations of being cautious. For example, describe how a character's heart rate might increase when faced with a risky situation, or how they might feel a sense of relief when a decision pays off.
  • Start by brainstorming a list of characteristics that might be associated with a cautious personality. Some examples could include: being detail-oriented, risk-averse, methodical, hesitant, or anxious.
  • Write a scene where your character has to make a decision that requires caution. Show how they weigh the risks and benefits, and how their cautious nature influences their thought process.
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