An Easy Way to Use Archetypes to Enrich Your Characters

image by sambeet

Archetype is defined here as a type of person whose typical behaviors are the same as those of others of the same type. For example, cowards exhibit some typical behaviors. They fear danger, lack courage, and avoid or quit dangerous situations.

Before I list 79 archetypes and a way to use them, here are some of their benefits in fiction.

Why Archetypes Are Useful in Building Character

 

They can help to

  • define the roles of characters.
  • narrow our characters so they’re not like all the other characters in our story.
  • expand and deepen our characters so they are multidimensional.
  • add interest to a character when using a distorted version of an archetype.
  • make a character original when choosing an unexpected archetype.
  • make realistic and identifiable characters because archetypes are built on real typical behaviors.
  • create conflict, tenderness, and tension when characters appear together in groups because each has a unique mixture of archetypal behaviors.
  • remind us to make characters act, react, and make choices in accordance with or occasionally the opposite of their archetypes.
  • bring out flaws in a character that he can conquer by story’s end.

Story Characters

image by Voltordu

 

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Love Interest
  • Mentor
  • Sidekick
  • Other Character

 

 

An Easy Way to Use Archetypes

 

  • For each character above, choose two to three archetypes from the list below. Mix up archetypes across characters.
  • Start with the Protagonist and understand from his combination of archetypes, how he thinks, acts, and reacts and what he dislikes in others.
  • For the Antagonist, perhaps he’s the epitome of what the protagonist dislikes. Or they have characteristics from a same archetype that helps them understand each other.
  • Since readers like the idea that opposites attract, choose at least one archetype for the Love Interest that’s opposite to one of the Protagonist’s.
  • The Mentor doesn’t have to be wise. Possibly, he’s accomplished in the area where the Protagonist is weak.
  • The Sidekick could be a combination of archetypes, some the Protagonist likes and others he tolerates. Possibly, the only thing that makes them a team is how loyal the sidekick is.

 Archetypes

 

Addict

Hero

Masochist

Rebel

Survivor

Analyst

Heroine

Masquerader

Reformer

Teacher

Anti-hero

Imposter

Mediator

Revolutionary

Tempter

Artist

Innocent

Messenger

Rival

Thief

Benefactor

Introvert

Monster

Rogue

Thrill-Seeker

Betrayer

Invalid

Mother Figure

Ruler

Trickster

Bully

Investigator

Narcissist

Sage

Tyrant

Rule Keeper

Jester

Outlaw

Samaritan

Victim

Corrupter

Know-it-all

Parent

Scapegoat

Villain

Coward

Leader

Peacemaker

Scholar

Waif

Dreamer

Loner

Penitent

Seductress

Warrior

Enabler

Lover

Perfectionist

Show-off

Watcher

Explorer

Loyalist

Pessimist

Skeptic

Womanizer

Feminist

Macho-man

Pleaser

Slave

Youth

Fool

Manipulator

Predator

Spoilsport

 

Go-Getter

Martyr

Psychopath

Superpower

 

Example:

Protagonist: an analyst, an explorer, and an imposter.

Sidekick: an addict, pessimist, and loyalist. 

What came to mind is:

Dickson is a young college man. One summer, he poses as a census taker and travels from town to town to collect data and write a paper on the perfect single woman. While he charms young women, he records 1-10 ratings for twenty traits he deems important.

Dickson’s teenage brother, Dean, travels with him. The only things that placate and keep Dean with Dickson is the promise of receiving a used jeep and a daily supply of three six-packs of diet soda loaded with caffeine. He believes Dickson won’t find the perfect women going door-to-door, and he reminds his brother daily of the fact. But as long as he has his caffeine fix, he faithfully keeps the truck running in case he spots a cop cruiser or Dickson’s interview ends badly.

79 archetypes and how to use them to create interesting characters. Click to tweet.

What archetypes could you pull together to make an interesting character?

 

7 Tips, Besides “Write, Write, Write,” to Become a Better Writer

image by Prawny
image by Prawny

Most writers have heard they must read, write, and rewrite often to become a better writer. True, but here are other tips to improve our writing.

  1. Subscribe to a writers’ magazine.

    I find the articles in Writer’s Digest supply fresh ideas and writing techniques. When I try them, I improve my writing.

  1. Obtain at least one critique partner.

    My partner combs my manuscript for what doesn’t work. Her comments make me rethink what I wrote. When I critique her manuscript and question something, I ask myself why what she wrote doesn’t work. Sometimes I dig into my writing references to look up the answer. From either side of the process, I learn much.

  1. image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images
    image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images

    Join a writer’s group.

    The encouragement and fellowship helps to keep us writing. During our discussions, we absorb what others have studied and shared. I’ve learned about writing trends, helpful resources, audiences, genres, and techniques. Some groups perform critiques during meetings.

  1. Attend conferences.

    For most conferences, potential workshop leaders must submit proposals and outlines of what they’ll present. Therefore, this screening usually produces workshops whose content is well thought out and worthwhile to writers. This has been my experience.

  1. Be a mentor.

    To me, mentoring someone is a big responsibility. I don’t want to lead my mentee astray, so I do my homework before I provide help, which hones my own skills.

  1. Write blog posts on writing.

    While helping other writers, researching and producing such posts helps me understand and remember the techniques and principles better. And in my archives, I have easy access to what I’ve selected as important to know.

image by bykst
image by bykst
  1. Lead a workshop.

    I started leading workshops in my writers’ group. Preparing writing examples for what I presented stretched me to come up with ones that truly showed the technique. Later, I applied to lead workshops for a conference. The prep work for the workshops helps embed in my memory what I present.

These tips will grow you as a writer. They’ll help you learn writing techniques, principles, and style. But the work involved also helps you own what you learn.

7 Tips to become a better writer that are in addition to “read, write, and rewrite.” Click to tweet.

Which of these tips, or other tips, have you tried and found the most helpful?

How to Find People Who’ll Sharpen You and Your Creative Work

“Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.” —Proverbs 27:17 NIV

ironwedge

You’re tired of hearing what you want to hear and going nowhere. Deep down you know your creative work could improve.

Like a cotton ball can’t hone a sharp edge on cotton candy, fawning and insincere people can’t help you become a solid crafter in your creative field.

After many years, I’m becoming a sharp iron wedge with WRITER chiseled into my face. I’m grateful to those who’ve sharpened me. Here are the activities that honed me the most.

1.   Join Groups

Image courtesy of criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In groups, you’ll meet experienced people who can sharpen you. These iron wedges frequent  groups to fine-tune their own chiseling edges and to mentor and teach others. So, join:

  • National and local groups
  • Conferences
  • Email or online discussion boards
  • Accountability groups
  • Character-building groups
Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tips:

  • Look for groups that:
    • Share successes
    • Promote one another
    • Share information and opportunities
    • Encourage each other
  • Seek participants in these groups who care enough to sharpen people with truth, excellence, and gentle firmness. Be ready to reciprocate.
  • Join groups outside your creative field. A friend writes stories with hockey settings. She took an 8-week hockey course.
  • Join groups that sharpen your character. For me, studies delving into Biblical truths and calling me to live up to God’s commands sharpen me.
  • Participate often in your selected groups and develop friendships.

2.   Seek People Who Will Sharpener You personally.

  • Critique partner
  • Mentor
  • Coach
  • Contest judges
  • Professionals

Tips:

  • Look for partners who care enough to sharpen you with truth, excellence, and gentle firmness.
  • Give your best in critique groups. Then invite one or two to team with you. Those who:
    Image courtesy of anekoho at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    Image courtesy of anekoho at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    • give their best back;
    • want you to succeed as much as you do;
    • you want them to succeed as much as they do;
    • give and receive constructive criticism well; and
    • are committed to the critiquing process.

  • Listen to contest judges or editors. If you disagree with them:
    • kill your pride and learn from them;
    • realize something hit the judges or editors the wrong way, and they made the effort to comment;
    • look deeper and be sharpened; and
    • relax—it’s you who decides how you’ll use their help.
  • Seek accountability partners who don’t let you off the hook. God is my first-line accountability partner, but my friends in Forward March help me also. Look for new partners who’ll:
    • review your goals and progress;
    • push you to move forward;
    • encourage you to dust yourself off and start fresh when you’ve had a bad week.

Being sharpened can be painful. But ultimately, chiseling through hard work successfully and sharpening others’ creative edges is a great reward.

Tweetable

  • Look for people who care enough to sharpen you with truth, excellence, and gentle firmness.
    click to tweet

What did the person who sharpened you most do for you?