Updated: Jan 26, 2021
by Sarah Perchikoff
Not gonna lie, this is a tough one for me. When I think about the Child or Innocent archetype, my mind goes blank. I think it’s mainly because I don’t write this type of character or maybe because in movies, shows, or books, this is my least favorite character. But whatever the reason, when this theme came up for September, deciding what to write was difficult.
BUT then I got to thinking about some of my favorite movies and shows and the Child/Innocent character made more sense. Who doesn’t love Pippin from Lord of the Rings? Yes, he’s a bit of a “fool of a took” at the beginning, but he grows out of it, and without his missteps, the fellowship and the ring might not have gotten to where they ended up.
There is also nothing like a Child/Innocent archetype to send a plan into the depths of the abyss. Your characters have everything worked out and then the Child drops something in a tunnel and BOOM the goblins and the cave troll are coming to kill your ass (damn it, Pippin!).
Say what you want about the Child, the journey you're writing wouldn't be the same without them.
There’s also Henry Mills from MY FAVORITE SHOW, Once Upon a Time. The show would be nothing without him. If he didn’t go to Boston to find his birth mother, the show and everything that happens after would never exist. It shows how much power the innocent archetype can have. How much they can be the catalyst.
So while, at first, the Child/Innocent character didn’t feel important to me, once I looked at the stories I love, I realized it can be one of the most important archetypes and characters in the whole story. The character can be the reason the story, the adventure, the romance, or the mystery happen.
Let’s look at another example: Prim from The Hunger Games. She may know some about what’s going on in her world, but as the little sister, she is presented as the child or the more innocent one. The one Katniss must volunteer herself for in order to save her from The Games (not The Writer's Games lol). Without Prim being there, would Katniss ever go to the Hunger Games? Would the revolution ever happen?
How much power and influence your child/innocent character has depends on how you write them and what your story needs. But it’s clear from these examples that the actions of the Child/Innocent (or the mere existence of them) can change everything for the other characters in your story. Don't underestimate them.
About the Author: Sarah Perchikoff is a writer and bookworm. She lives in Michigan with her miniature dachshund named Gracie. You can find her on Twitter @sperchikoff or at her book review blog, Bookish Rantings.