How do you start to build fictional characters when you're an an aspiring writer or author?
Using Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s archetypes will help you make sense of your character and their world. It certainly will help you to address, explore and deal with current situations coming out of your plot.
Before you are put off by the word ‘Archetypes – they are, quite simply, unconscious image patterns that cross cultural boundaries.
Like Zodiac signs for building characters, archetypes form the basic skeleton of your novel’s characters. But of course, you can’t stop with the skeleton, unless your book is about living skeletons – and even then you’ll need to add flesh and blood and thoughts and feelings.
If you think of a stereotype for your character it only gives you a general idea – it doesn’t tell you anything about their motivation, goals and fears.
Victoria helps you to make exciting discoveries about your book’s people. Using her guide and your plot points you will find wayts to show how your character will react to that situation (your plot).
This is what drives your story forward, not the plot point itself. A character doesn’t decide to go into a burning building because that is what your plot point says he should do – he goes inside because it is in his nature to do so.
This book is an invaluable tool for all aspiring writers and novelists.
It forces you to delve deeper into your characters and see them as a type of person who responds in a very specific way to the conflict in your story.
Have you always wondered how some novelists can make a character jump off the page? Well, wonder no more. With 45 Master Characters to choose from and Linda Edelstein’s character traits you have a set of motivations, fears and cares that move your character about in your story and more importantly, moves your story forward. Family, culture, class and age all shape how this new life you’ve created expresses the essences of real life.
Stereotypes are oversimplified generalisations about people (normally prejudice) whereas archetypes have judgements and assumptions absent and our experiences of people. Where a stereotype is a shallow impression, archetypes give you the bigger picture to create your characters.
Bring your character to life under the skilful guidance of Victoria’s expansion of vision. From physical to emotional, take an archetype – find what makes them tick, what do they care about, what do they fear, how others see them and then start developing their character arc with assets and flaws.
Let’s look at the Amazon archetype. She is a feminist. She cares more about the female cause than she cares for herself. She wouldn’t hesitate to come to the aid of anther woman or child no matter what the risk to herself. She’ll go wherever she pleases. But as bold as brass as she seems, she still has fears. What are they? What motivates her?
We almost certainly know her assets are caring for women and children and she wouldn’t be afraid alone at night but what are her flaws. And how can you give your reader a sneaky insight into villainous side? When you’re developing her arc, what will you do to show your ‘Amazon’ in action?
Try this if you’re struggling with an existing character – they’re just refusing to come out of their shell and get real! So, read 45 Master Characters cover to cover and just wait to see what happens. Like a miracle, your novel’s people will just start talking to you, like mine did when I read this book.
Your ‘people’ just appear out of the mist that are the 45 basic types of character personalities. And the beauty of it is that as Victoria intended your characters will spring into life out of the barebones listed in the book.
And then … the best part of all, certainly the most fun, let the characters hover in your mind. They’ll become tangible and start living, breathing, kicking, jumping and shouting. By letting them ‘squat’ in your head, you’ll give them free reign to take a life of their own and start suggesting to you things that will make them jump of the page at your readers.
Paula Wynne is the founder of Book Hub. She started Book Hub out of a need to market and promote her own fiction. As well as running Book Hub, Paula is an author with several published books.
Paula's Writers' Resource Series features the following books: Pimp My Fiction: How to Write a Novel with The Ultimate List of Creative Writing Books to Create A Plot & Build Character; A~Z Writers’ Character Quirks: A~ Z of Behaviours, Foibles, Habits, Mannerisms & Quirks for Writers’ to Create Fictional and 101 Writers’ Scene Settings: Unique Location Ideas & Sensory Details for Writers’ to Create Vivid Scene.