As ever, we get caught up in character profiles. While it serves us as a guide to characterization, using worn-out stereotypes has its downside, boredom at least, and at the worst, predictability.
I’d ask you to close your eyes and envision what it is I’m talking about, but then you wouldn’t be able to read. So don’t do it. Especially if you are reading this blog while driving.
Still, you sometimes need to create an innocent character in one of its many forms. For example:
- The innocent child
- The innocent of mind (childlike) adult
- The privileged person awaiting a white knight or other savior
- The overly trusting person
- The worldly person who is wrongfully accused of a rules infraction or crime.
In creating an innocent we need to keep some things in mind. First, just about everyone is innocent about something. They may hide it with gruffness, a practiced stare, or tone of voice, but if you worry it enough, you can find the thing that your character does not know. That thing that makes your character back down from embarrassment. This is worth remembering.
Something else to consider is this: having a child, or even a teenager who is a prodigy is cute, but not realistic. Yes, they exist. I’ve known some. Likely you have too, but I fear that the youthful prodigy is typically overstated. Even those I’ve known were only proficient in one or two areas, not adults locked in child-like bodies.
The bottom line? Build your innocent characters with care. Take into account their background, the reason for their innocence—or if it be a part of your plan, the loss of innocense.
Finally, a creature, be it human or animal, which is totally innocent, unreservedly pure, is typically an infant, or a person with mental issues. Harsh words, I guess, but I’m wide open to other suggestions.