I am happy to say that The Complete Writers’ Guide to Heroes and Heroines is now available on Kindle!
And even better – so is Fallen Heroes: Sixteen Master Villain Archetypes!
are the Sixteen Master Archetypes?
word "archetype" was coined by Carl Jung, who theorized that
humans have a collective unconscious, "deposits of the constantly
repeated experiences of humanity.... a kind of readiness to reproduce
over and over again the same or similar mythical ideas...." This
shared memory of experiences has resulted in a resonance of the concepts
of hero and heroine that transcends time, place and culture. Jung called
these recurring personalities archetypes, from the Greek word archetypos,
meaning “first of its kind.”
The observations my coauthors and I made are that
there are recurring character types who have starred in story after story,
entertaining and informing the human experience for millennia. Review
of myths, legends, fairy tales, epic poems, novels and film reveals that
the protagonist types who recur in these stories fall into sixteen distinctive
categories, eight each for the heroes and heroines. These archetypes are
not the inventions of my coauthors and me – they have existed for
millennia. All we did was name and describe them, and then gather examples
from an assortment of cultural media.
At his or her core, every well-defined hero or heroine
is one of the respective archetypes. The archetype tells the writer about
the most basic instincts of the hero: how he thinks, how he feels, what
drives him and why he chooses both his goals and his methods. The skillful
writer, in turn, conveys these instincts to the readers or audience, who,
knowing at a glance the character of this hero, settles down to watch
the tale retold anew.
But beware when trying to decide what archetypal
family to which a character belongs.
AN ARCHETYPE IS NOT DETERMINED BY THE CHARACTER’S
I am serious – what the character does
is not the defining element. The defining element is WHY
the character does what he does.
archetype can do anything – the question will always be why.”
Repeat that a thousand times. Tape it to your computer
screen. If you have the book, deface the cover by writing those words
What that means is that I don’t want you thinking
you have to have four different archetypes because your character does
four things that are what those four archetypes do. Uh-uh. Not the way
it works. WHY, WHY, WHY – always look for the answer to that question
to determine an archetype.
The existence of these archetypes, by the way, does not mean that in all
of literature, there are only eight heroes. Members of the same archetypal
family are not photocopies of each other. Heroes within a single archetypes
share a similar psyche, but they are not and should
not be clones of each other.
For example, Captain Kirk of Star Trek
is a CHIEF. He gives his orders, never doubting his loyal crew will jump
to follow him. His work -- his ship -- is his mistress, his one and only
true love. He does, indeed, boldly go forth into the universe, and presents
the very picture of a leader. But Henry Higgins, of My Fair Lady is
also a CHIEF. He, too, blithely announces his will, knowing his commands
will be obeyed. He has no doubt that his opinion is correct, and anything
he wishes to be done, is, in fact, the correct thing to do. But Star Trek
would have been a very different program had Henry Higgins sat in the
Enterprise’s captain’s chair. Eliza Doolittle would not have
brought Captain Kirk his slippers.
Archetypes are not stereotypes; they are not cookie
cutters. They can be considered a framework, or even better, a lump of
clay of a particular color and consistency. Use the archetype as raw material
to create a full bodied character.
Use the links to the left to learn more about the
individual archetypes, or click Heroes, Heroines,