Building a Character: The Twelve Major Archetypes | Wordeee
Building a Character: The Twelve Major Archetypes

The latest stats indicate that over 1 million books are published each year by traditional publishers and if you count self-published authors, the count is over a whopping 4 million. Whether fiction or nonfiction, almost all books follow four major themes: Man vs. Self; Man vs. Society; Man vs. Nature; Man vs. Man.

So how does one differentiate their writing from someone else’s, especially in fiction which is what we will deal with here? The simple answer is through characterization. Like plot, memorable characters are what drives a page turning story. Like themes, most characterization falls into twelve archetypes. If you understand and use archetypes effectively you can stand out from the crowd, especially if you use the countless iterations of these major archetypes. Developing characters that are unforgettable often leads to deeper and more fulfilling writing. Below is an image of the 12 major archetypes.

Let us deal with just one archetype to show you how to build a character. Shall we deal with, let’s say the “Lover.” This person is usually extraverted, great at listening, fastidious about their appearance, perceptive, able to read people, observant and inviting. They are usually in professions such as Writers, Composers, Marketing, Actors, Dancers, etc. If you betray this type of character, boy are you in for it. They will make your life a living hell. When writing about this character you can do nothing contrary to who they are…you won’t find them mountain climbing, hanging out at a camping site or on Wall Street. They would rather be daydreaming or be the center of attention at the latest social gathering. Think of how you would create conflict in this character…how will they undergo dramatic changes…force them to mountain climb or to be on Wall Street. If you stay true to the character to overcome their conflict in a manner that fits who they are…forced them to be on Wall Street. They will soon marry the CEO and move to Park Avenue. Please check out our next Wordeee University Writing Workshop for a deep dive into the subject of Developing Archetypes.

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