Tag Archive - characters

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…

Asking “Why?” to Create Rich Characters for Your Novel

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at an excerpt from a previous post titled Why, Why, Why?

I do a lot of manuscript critiques. Hundreds a year. I find the best way to get writers thinking about their plot and characters is to ask a lot of questions. And since I’m a novelist who loves deep, rich characters, I like to challenge my editing clients to push past the ordinary and into the realm of the complex.

For, people are complex. Humans are complicated. They really are. Maybe someone will disagree with me and claim the opposite. That people are simple, easy to figure out.

Well, I’m guessing those who really believe that will probably portray boring, flat characters in their fiction.

I’m hoping, though, that you want to create characters that are complex and sometimes unpredictable who have countless facets to their personalities and seeming contradictions. Why? Because real people are like that, and we writers are supposed to be encapsulating real life in our novels. (Unless you’re deliberately trying not to for some reason). Continue Reading…

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