Tag Archive - characters

Developing a Strong Novel Concept Starting with an Archetype

We’ve been starting to explore archetypes on Monday’s section on novel writing. I talked about some of the basic archetypes a writer might borrow from when developing characters, and I gave a series of questions you might ask of your character, to start identifying qualities that might tend to a particular type.

You might wonder if you have to stick closely to the standard archetype or if you can mix it up. Sure, characters can have bits of one or another. But the aim here is to identify those dominating markers and to choose archetypes that best serve your plot.

Starting Novels with a Character Type

Some writers begin their novel-brainstorming process based on a character type. When I put together my 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction Workbook, I decided to take a random idea and build it into a solid concept, fleshing it out through the workbook as an example, to help writers along with the process. Continue Reading…

Questions to Help You Come Up with Archetypes and Character Arcs

Why would a writer plan to use archetypes when crafting a short story or a novel? Because archetypes bring tremendous purpose and richness to characters—not just to their personalities but to their roles in a story.

In last week’s post I introduced some of the basic archetypes you might consider using. The key to choosing an archetype is in the motivation. Ask: what does this character want or need? What is her goal, and what will she do if she can’t reach it?

The most memorable characters are archetypal. In Jungian psychology, there are seven master archetypes that are or can be personified by Greek gods and goddesses. You might like to take time to research some of this. But if you plan to use archetypes in your story, be sure to go beyond the superficial and stereotype. All of your characters should have unique qualities and personalities that make them memorable. Continue Reading…

Using Archetypes to Create Powerful Characters in Your Fiction

What makes great novels great, more than any other thing, is great characters. And while there are no simple instructions on how to craft a terrific cast of characters, novelists can learn from and benefit by a study of archetypal roles.

In my book The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction, I speak at length about the general types of characters we populate our novels with: allies, antagonists, nemeses, romance characters. It’s important to understand both the need for these types of characters and the parts they play in novel structure.

But let’s go beyond these basics to a deeper exploration of character. When we take a look at archetypes, we’re able to get into our characters’ and readers’ psyches.

Why is this a good thing? Because on a subliminal or subconscious level, we well know these types of characters or people. And since motivation is everything when it comes to character, understanding archetypes gives us insight into specific motivation. Continue Reading…

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