Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Books & Writing -- Creating Characters

I've been absent from my blog recently, but I promise we'll soon complete this series on creating characters. Today, I'd like to look at a tool that we can go back to again and again while creating and working with our characters. This will help define a character and remain true to who they are.

Archetypal Roles
An archetypal role is simply a model of a character (it can also be used to help define a story). If you begin with an archetypal role, constructing a character or even a story plot will be easier.

I've listed some examples below. There are many more. You may want to create your own list. For instance if you find a character in a movie you're watching or book you're reading and you think that character might be someone you'd like to use in a story add them to your list. I found one just the other night and she was so perfect for my next book that I changed the one I'd previously chosen. You may want to watch the movie several times to help you pin down the character.


• Cinderella—The movie Pretty Woman follows this archetypal role for the Cinderella story, right down to the white limousine at the end. Julia Roberts creates a perfectly spunky Cinderella in this rags to riches story.

• Coming of Age. Luke Skywalker is a good example of this type of character. 

Hero Quest—Jesus Christ is the most famous archetypal role for this type of character. He is the savior, who gives his life for others. A more recent and creative version is the hero in the movie the Matrix. He is THE ONE who came to save mankind.

• Come to Realize—This is most clearly seen in the prodigal son. In the Biblical account the young man leaves home and quickly spends his inheritance on wine, women, and easy living and then seeing the error of his way returns home to the open arms of his father. There are lots of creative ways to use this type of character.

• Romance—There are a number of architypal roles—tragic love (Romeo and Juliet), forbidden love (The Thornbirds and a more recent example is Avatar). Unattainable love is poignantly demonstrated in the movie (Anna and the King of Siam, written by Margaret Landon).

• Monster slayer—The hero or the heroine is in peril and the monster slayer destroys the enemy. (James Bond). Another type of monster slayer is portrayed in a movie called Extraordinary Measures where the father of two very sick little girls fights the system to save his daughters' lives.

• Fugitive—This is the character who is unjustly accused. In the 1960’s
there was a television program called “The Fugitive. Harrison Ford played the character in a more recent movie taken from the weekly TV show. The character and the tale was based on a true story, about an innocent man running from the law.

• Beauty and the Beast—This is the story of a repulsive character who is transformed or redeemed by love (The sin eater in The Last Sin Eater)

I hope these will be helpful as you continue to romp through your story. Remember, have fun.

Grace and peace to you from God,


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