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Welcome all dreamers, fantasists, bibliophiles, and romantics. Join me Mondays and Fridays for speculation about other worlds, exploration of the human heart and soul in fiction and fact, sojourns in history and science, advice and tidbits in the realms of story, and thoughts on everything in between...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Character Archetypes and Their Interactions


For you writers out there, and I suspect role players too, combing through a book of archetypes can be as addictive as Facebook quizzes or chocolate. One of my dear friends sent me The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders. She might as well have sent me a box of Guinevere Chocolates, my favorite brand, of which I can happily give myself a stomach ache from eating.

I’ve spent the past few nights perusing the chapters and archetype styles, trying to place my fictional characters. As a result, I’ve gone to bed later than I should, insistent that before I could close my eyes, I had to figure out what archetype Runen (one of my heroes) or Kathesen (one of my heroines) was. And it was true. The not knowing would have tormented me enough to make sleep evasive.

But when you really get down to it, there are lots of books that talk about archetypes and give listing after listing. What makes The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes so compelling is that, not only does it list archetypes, but it explores their interaction with each other. How do a Warrior and a Waif clash, mesh, and change each other? What likely happens when you throw a Bad Boy and a Seductress into the same story? The possibilities are endless, and while the book does not give an exhaustive list of potentialities, it provides a large framework from which to spring from bursting with ideas.

The other beneficial element of this book is the discussions of changing archetypes, when a hero or heroine starts the story as one and grows into another through the course of a book, and layered archetypes. This last prove especially helpful to a girl like me, who far too often tries to follow “the rules” verbatim.

It gets even more interesting when you start trying to figure out what archetype you and others in your life are.

For anyone looking for a new take on archetypes or who wants a good springboard from which to build characters and their interactions, I highly recommend The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders. What books on writer or archetypes do you enjoy?

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