I hear you telling me that your character is 100% completely original and doesn’t fall into any kind of “archetype”, and I’m just gonna sit here and nod politely and force you to agree to disagree with me.
Archetypes aren’t a bad thing.
Archetypes are easily recognizable characters that are patterned in a certain way to fuel their desires.
Understanding the character you’re creating and where they fall in the 12 Common Archetypes (oh, yes, there’s more than 12, but I’m trying to keep it simple for you here!) can really truly help you in making a character who is multi-dimensional and realistic.
For example, if your character falls under the Lover Archetype, they’re going to be more social, more passionate and their ultimate goal should be to be in a relationship or work situation that they love. A Lover craves intimacy and experience, and yeah, you’ll probably get to write some steamy love scenes with this type of character.
Understanding the things that drive your character is so important when it comes to building a character who is more than just words on paper. Even if you don’t memorize every single archetype there is out there, you can always go have a look and decide if your character is a Sage, or a Ruler. Is your character driven by selfish needs, or does s/he care about others above all?
And don’t forget, you can always bend these Archetypes and reshape them like putty in your hands.
Sure, you might have a Ruler who craves nothing but power, but instead of being a Heroic-ruler, he might be evil and vile and mean. Or, you could have a completely Benign Ruler, a champion and a hero with a dark and hidden past. It’s all about understanding your characters, understanding their motivation, and using that to build your character into something loved (or hated) and ultimately memorable.
Archetypes are not a bad thing, they’re building blocks. Like LEGO. What you do with them is up to you.
The world you create isn’t just your oyster, it’s more like an all you can eat buffet. You have the tools to build and create, and your only limit is yourself. Your characters bow to you, you are the creator god. You’re Odin and Zeus and Ra and Isis and Osiris all rolled into one.
And look, I even have a link for you.
Now go forth and use these Archetypes to help you create the characters you wanna create.
Tell me: how do you use Archetypes? Do you subvert them?