#WritingTips Understanding Character Archetypes

What do we mean when we say, CHARACTER ARCHETYPES?

The simple explanation:
An archetype is the typical and traditional characters, plots, settings, themes, and symbols found in 99% of all stories. Character Archetypes are the “blueprints” for characters that we draw on to fill necessary roles within a story.

Who is the story’s Protagonist?
The Hero

Who helps the Protagonist get what they want?
The Sidekick

Who is trying to keep the Protagonist from their goal?
The Villain

Who is connected to the Protagonist’s emotional/physical growth?
The Mentor



Let's Look at the Most Common Types

HERO
THE WARRIOR, CRUSADER, RESCUER, DRAGON SLAYER, & WINNER.

Lawful Good
Strength of character is tested at each point of their journey.
Thrive on challenges even when reluctant to tackle them.
Sensitive to injustice.
Protective of weaker characters.
WEAKNESS = Hubris.

Examples: Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, Robin Hood

ANTI-HERO
VIGILANTES EMBRACING NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTES TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS.

Chaotic Good
Past trauma shapes their personality
Selfish or self-serving motivations.
Good and/or Evil is treated like a business transaction.
WEAKNESS = Narcissism.

Examples: Wolverine, Maleficent, Deadpool


SIDEKICK
FAITHFUL SUPPORT OF THE HERO OR VILLAIN.

Neutral Good
True Loyalty - There at all times, even when things are tough.
Voice of Reason (often ignored).
Unsung Hero / Similar qualities to their leader but do not rise to the same level.
WEAKNESS = Unwavering Devotion.

Examples: Tinker Bell, Samwise Gamgee, Little John

VILLAIN
THE EVIL HERO – ANTAGONIST

Lawful Evil - Chaotic Evil
Often motivated by fear.
Traumatic past shapes their personality, but do not develop sense of morality to allow them to become an anti-hero.
Moral foil of the hero. Their vice parallels the protagonists’ virtue. They create the need for a hero.
WEAKNESS = Lust for Power/Control.

Examples: Voldemort, Cruella DeVil, Skeletor

MENTOR
GUIDANCE AND ASSISTANCE TO HELP THE HERO MATURE

Neutral Good / Lawful Good
Provide: motivation, inspiration, guidance, training, and gifts for the journey
Was once in the Hero’s position. Speaks from experience.
Assists when needed, but does not take the hero’s journey to completion.
Moral Compass

Examples: Yoda, Dumbledore, Aslan

BACKGROUND / SECONDARY CHARACTERS
The Innocent
The Caregiver
The Lover
The Comic Relief
The Messenger
The Betrayer
The Trickster
The Ordinary Person

Examples: Merry and Pippin, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood

No comments: