We explored the different archetypes for both heroes and heroines, trying to identify the characteristics that made them unique, and trying to put popular characters from TV, literature, and movies to the different archetypes.
Examples of Hero Archetypes include: The Chief (Captain Kirk from Star Trek), The Swashbuckler (Indiana Jones), The Best Friend (Harry from When Harry Met Sally), and The Warrior (Bruce Willis in Die Hard.) Examples of Heroine Archetypes that we discussed include: The Free Spirit (Phoebe Buffay from Friends), The Waif (Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz), The Seductress (Scarlett O’Hara), and The Nurturer (Mary Poppins).
As we discussed the various character types, I challenged everyone to try to identify their own character type, their family members types, and the types for each of the heroes and heroines they were currently writing. At the end, we had a quiz. Everyone tried to use what they had just learned about the character types to match 16 characters from TV and fiction to archetypes. There were some varying results, but a good time was had by all, and the winner received a copy of The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines.
Some highlights of the presentation were:
1. Using archetypes will not make your characters ‘cookie-cutter.’ Each archetype lends itself to untold opportunities for creativity and individuality.
2. Rarely is a character solely based upon one Core Archetype. Just as people are complex, so are characters. Start with a core archetype and add layers of other characteristics.
3. The most valuable gem in the book for me was a comparison of the character types, how they clash, how they mesh, and how they change because of their association. This is invaluable to a writer, particularly a romance writer.
An example of the interaction between The Professor and the Free Spirit might be:
Here’s a link to where you can learn more about the book:
Author Bio: Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.