POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS

PROTECTIVE



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HELPFUL TIP:

Characters with this positive attribute will be extra sensitive to certain emotions, so think about how events might specifically trigger feelings in a way that elevates or lowers their moods or causes moral dilemmas to form—whichever best fits your story goals. Try giving a supporting character a negative trait that acts as an opposite of this attribute, causing frustration, disillusionment, or even emotional volatility that leads to poor decisions and mistakes.
DEFINITION:
Inclined to safeguard, shield, or carefully supervise the persons or items in one’s charge

POSSIBLE CAUSES:
Serving in a caregiver role
Love and respect
Being responsible for others (one’s younger siblings, etc.) at an early age
Exposure to “lean” times (where water, food, or shelter is scarce)
Having struggled in the past to provide for one’s family
Proximity to danger or corruption where one must defend one’s resources
Abuse
The belief that one cannot be too careful
Being the caregiver of a family member with a mental or physical handicap
A past failure (real or imagined) to protect a person, one’s assets, or one’s resources

ASSOCIATED BEHAVIORS AND ATTITUDES:
Being aware of danger and risk, and avoiding them as much as possible
Carefully watching situations that could grow volatile
Asking questions; needing to know details
Researching and fact gathering
Being in close proximity to the one needing protection
Being an active listener; offering support and counsel
Wanting someone to succeed and working to help them achieve their goals
Balancing concern for safety with respecting another’s independence and freedom
Lightly touching others to let them know one is there
Being proactive; thinking ahead to what might be needed
Distrust of strangers
Encouraging sound choices and decision-making
Offering strength when it is needed
Understanding the risks before acting
Being vigilant when it comes to friends or influencers
Acting in someone’s best interest without being overbearing, bossy, or controlling
Protecting someone for their sake, not for one’s own best interests
Following rules and behavior patterns that have proven safe in the past
Needing to know where someone is, who they are with, and what they are doing
Being hyper sensitive to time; using time limits as a method of monitoring
Seeing to the needs of those in one’s care
Being an advocate for someone else
Worrying, especially when one has little or no control over events
Calling, texting, and visiting as a way of checking in
Difficulty trusting others and letting go of control
Taking on more responsibility to help someone or increase one’s influence with them
Seeing a possible threat in every situation
Being wary of new experiences or places
Being there when help is needed
Looking out for those who are ill-equipped to do so themselves
Providing information or advice to help someone be prepared

ASSOCIATED THOUGHTS:
She has no idea that Neal’s a player. I better let her know.
I’ll go to Rick’s party so I can make sure he doesn’t get out of hand like last time.
I can’t let Peter wear that to school; the kids will rip him apart.
Bob’s home situation is so awful. I’ll cover this shift to get the boss off his back.

ASSOCIATED EMOTIONS:

POSITIVE ASPECTS:
Protective characters care deeply and have the best interest of their charges at heart. They are willing to set aside their own wants and needs to make sure the needs of their loved ones are taken care of. As their loved ones explore the world and their place within it, protectors act with vigilance to ensure that no harm comes to them. These characters are excellent at assessing possible risks and minimizing them, protecting their assets and resources from those who might take advantage, while offering help and counsel to loved ones who need it.

NEGATIVE ASPECTS:
While protectors safeguard the people and things they care about, conflict arises when opinions differ as to the best course of action. Despite good intentions, power struggles can create a tug-of-war between the protector’s need to keep a charge safe and the charge’s desire for autonomy. When rules and precautions chafe, a charge may rebel, damaging the relationship or worse—intentionally putting himself in danger in order to prove that he can take care of himself.

EXAMPLE FROM TV:
Dean Winchester from the series Supernatural is extremely protective of not only his brother Sam, but anyone he considers family, including his fellow hunters. He will go to any lengths to protect them from the evil they fight day-to-day, going up against demons, Leviathans, the Four Horsemen, and Death himself. Risking his life for others is in a hunter’s job description, but Dean takes it a step further, selling his soul to the devil in order to save Sam’s life. Other Examples from Film and Literature: Leigh Anne Tuohy (The Blind Side), Korben Dallas (The Fifth Element), the unnamed father in The Road

CHALLENGING SCENARIOS FOR CHARACTERS WITH THIS TRAIT:
Trying to protect those who undermine the protector’s efforts out of a sense of unworthiness
Encountering a powerful force (the police, the government) that tries to take one’s resources
Needing to protect someone despite not having the knowledge or resources to do so

TRAITS IN SUPPORTING CHARACTERS THAT MAY CAUSE CONFLICT: