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Inspiration Decks Character Traits 2023-12-06 00:00

Character Trait: Guarded

Character Trait Guarded

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait "guarded" refers to a personality that is cautious, reserved, and hesitant to reveal their thoughts or feelings to others. A guarded character may seem aloof, distant, or unapproachable, often keeping their emotions hidden to avoid vulnerability or protect themselves from potential harm. This trait can manifest in different ways, such as being secretive, untrusting, or defensive, and it can add depth and complexity to a character's personality.

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

Possible causes of being guarded

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

  • Low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence.
  • Past traumatic experiences that have led to a fear of vulnerability and openness.
  • Cultural or societal norms that encourage emotional restraint or stoicism.
  • Personal values that prioritize privacy or independence.
  • Fear of rejection or abandonment.
  • Personality traits such as introversion or shyness that make it difficult to trust others.
  • Professional requirements to maintain a professional distance or neutrality.
  • Childhood upbringing that emphasized emotional suppression and self-reliance.

Behaviors associated with being guarded

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

  • Avoiding intimate relationships
  • Being reserved in social situations
  • Keeping a safe distance from others
  • Hiding true thoughts and feelings
  • Maintaining a defensive demeanor
  • Avoiding emotional vulnerability
  • Being cautious in trusting others
  • Keeping personal information private
  • Being selective in what is shared with others

Attitudes associated with being guarded

You may be able to show guarded through their attitudes.

  • A preference for privacy or solitude
  • A need for control in situations
  • Tendency to keep emotions hidden
  • Difficulty trusting people
  • Wariness of potential threats
  • Suspicion towards others
  • Protectiveness of personal information or belongings
  • Caution in revealing vulnerabilities

Thoughts and struggles associated with being guarded

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

  • They may also have difficulty expressing emotions, bottling them up instead of sharing them with others.
  • They may have a hard time trusting their own instincts and making decisions, as they are constantly second-guessing themselves and their motives.
  • They may be quick to put up walls and keep others at a distance, even if it means missing out on potential connections or opportunities.
  • A guarded character is often aloof, reserved, and may have trust issues due to past experiences or trauma.
  • They may be independent and self-sufficient, preferring to rely on themselves rather than others.
  • They may struggle with vulnerability and opening up to others, fearing that they will be hurt or taken advantage of.
  • A guarded character might be guarded because they fear rejection or abandonment, and they may have a hard time forming close relationships.
  • A guarded character might struggle with the balance between protecting themselves and shutting others out completely.
  • A guarded character might have a hard time asking for help or accepting it when it is offered.

Emotions associated with being guarded

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

  • Emotional detachment
  • Suspicion
  • Self-protectiveness
  • Wariness
  • Defensive behavior
  • Mistrust
  • Fear of vulnerability
  • Secretiveness
  • Cautiousness
  • Aloofness
  • Reluctance to reveal personal information

Facial expressions associated with being guarded

Here are some facial expressions your guarded character may exhibit.

• A closed-off posture (e.g. crossed arms, hunched shoulders)

Body language associated with being guarded

Here is some body language your guarded character may exhibit.

  • Standing or sitting in a defensive posture (e.g. back against the wall)
  • Clenched jaw or tensed facial muscles
  • Leaning away from the person or situation
  • Avoiding eye contact or frequently looking away
  • Minimal or stiff movements
  • Fidgeting with objects or clothes
  • Hesitant or slow movements
  • Standing or sitting with a physical barrier (e.g. table, bag) between themselves and others
  • Tightly crossed arms or legs

Behaviors associated with being guarded

Here are some behaviors your guarded character may exhibit.

  • Being reserved in social situations
  • Being selective in what is shared with others
  • Avoiding intimate relationships
  • Being cautious in trusting others
  • Keeping a safe distance from others
  • Avoiding emotional vulnerability
  • Hiding true thoughts and feelings
  • Keeping personal information private
  • Maintaining a defensive demeanor

Growth and evolution of guarded characters

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

  • Learning to trust and rely on others
  • Learning to take risks and step outside of their comfort zone
  • Developing a stronger sense of empathy and understanding for others
  • Letting go of grudges and forgiveness
  • Developing better communication skills
  • Opening up to others and building deeper relationships
  • Gaining a better understanding of themselves and their motivations
  • Confronting and overcoming past traumas that led to the guardedness
  • Becoming more vulnerable and expressing emotions

Stereotypes of guarded characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical guarded character like these examples.

  • Avoid making your Guarded character too closed off or secretive to the point of being unrealistic.
  • Avoid making your Guarded character a stereotype or caricature of a specific group or personality type.
  • Avoid using the Guarded trait as a crutch for lack of character development or complexity.
  • Avoid making your Guarded character completely unapproachable or hostile towards others.
  • Avoid portraying your Guarded character as emotionless or robotic.
  • Avoid making your Guarded character too predictable or one-dimensional.

Negatives of being guarded

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

  • Fear of vulnerability and emotional intimacy
  • Difficulty expressing oneself authentically
  • Tendency to hide true thoughts and feelings
  • Difficulty forming close relationships
  • Anxiety about being hurt or betrayed
  • Tendency to overanalyze situations and people's motives
  • Perceived as aloof or standoffish
  • Tendency to push people away
  • Difficulty trusting others

Positives of being guarded

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

  • They tend to be good at setting boundaries and protecting themselves from harm or negative influences.
  • Guarded individuals are often careful and thoughtful in their actions, which can lead to better decision-making.
  • Guarded people are often good listeners and observers, as they tend to pay close attention to their surroundings and the people around them.
  • They can be very loyal and trustworthy, as they only share personal information with those they trust.

Verbal expressions of guarded characters

Here are some potential expressions used by guarded characters.

  • Giving short or one-word answers
  • Being cautious with information
  • Being tight-lipped
  • Avoiding personal topics
  • Being evasive
  • Speaking in vague terms
  • Using sarcasm or irony to deflect
  • Keeping things close to the chest
  • Being cryptic

Relationships of guarded characters

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

  • Tendency to retreat or withdraw when feeling threatened
  • Hesitancy to reveal personal information
  • Fear of vulnerability and being hurt
  • Slow to trust and quick to assume the worst
  • Tendency to test others before opening up
  • Tendency to keep others at a distance
  • Difficulty in forming close relationships
  • Preference for superficial or casual relationships
  • Difficulty expressing emotions and feelings

Examples from books of characters who are guarded

  • Lisbeth Salander from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson
  • Ender Wiggin from "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • Sherlock Holmes from "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Jay Gatsby from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Arya Stark from "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R.R. Martin
  • Katniss Everdeen from "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
  • Holden Caulfield from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • Edmond Dantès from "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas

Writing exercises for writing guarded characters

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

  • Write a scene where your character is hesitant to open up to someone they just met.
  • Show your character keeping secrets from others, even those close to them.
  • Write a scene where your character is confronted with vulnerability, and how they react to it.
  • Show your character putting up emotional walls, and how others react to it.
  • Write a backstory that explains why your character is guarded, and how it has affected their relationships.
  • Write a scene where your character is forced to trust someone, and how they struggle with it.
  • Show your character's guardedness affecting their decision-making and actions.
  • Show your character avoiding eye contact or physical touch during a conversation.
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