Creating a Character: Most Common Archetypes (Pt. 1)

Making a Plan

When people are asked what is the most important feature a good writer must have, the majority replies that it is imagination. However, writing does not always mean fiction, there is plenty of genres that require the author to only describe the reality, exposing the deep understanding of it. What any journalist, public speaker, narrative or descriptive essay writer should also be is a good psychologist, a deep thinker who knows how to manipulate others so they react in the expected way. What can help a fiction writer to achieve it is knowing the archetypes of the characters.

What Is the Archetype?

Archetype (in mythology, literature and the arts): image, ideal, or pattern that has come to be considered a universal model, largely unconscious image patterns that cross cultural boundaries (Encarta).

Therefore, archetypes are a must to be aware of at least for a general development level. However, as a writer, you can use two more advantages of such knowledge.

What Are the Advantages?

First advantage is that archetypes can be very helpful while facing a writer’s block. Linking the character to the suitable archetype might give you a better and deeper understanding of your own characters if they were not thought through at first. This way, you may get a hint of how this imaginary person can react to certain situations, what they might want, what can be a suitable plot twist in this case.

Pro and Against List

The second advantage is the ability to not overuse too typical and expected features. Yes, you want to make your character believable, but you do not want to make them predictable.

So, What Kinds of Archetypes Exist?

Carl Golden gives the list of 12 common archetypes. In this article we will discuss only a half of them, leaving the other half for the next article. So, these 6 archetypes are as following:

The Ego Types:

1. The Innocent

It is an absolutely naive dreamer whose goal is to live happily and for everyone to live happily. This is the person who is afraid to make a mistake, to cause a quarrel or any problems. A writer should be careful to make this archetype a main character, as such idealistic people do not seem real and might be boring for the lack of intrigue around them.

2. The Orphan

This is a person who has already felt the loneliness and has been in the shoes of someone who does not belong anywhere. Therefore, this is someone who is trying to prevent such situation from happening again. They will do everything to stick to the company risking to lose their personality in the process. They trust someone else more than themselves sometimes, they only feel fulfilled when they are around someone. At the same time, they are extremely loyal, sometimes for the benefit of others more than their own.

3. The Hero

This is the person who is never afraid to face the challenge. The Hero is actually afraid that someone might find out they can be afraid of something. Once they have won the battle, they rush to be in time for the second one. Their life is an endless process of collecting the trophies, while the surrounding can suffer. While they think all they do is care about others, they might appear to be pretty selfish as they are only concentrating on winning and not on the causes or results of the conflict.

4. The Caregiver

This is someone who only lives for the sake of helping others. The Caregivers see themselves as eternal altruists, their life principle is that you need to love others the way you love yourself. However, in the reality this trait appears to be too idealistic and gets used by someone less selfless and more cunning. In the end all we have is a feeling of pity to those who have laid themselves on the altar of serving others. Everybody cries.

The Soul Types

5. The Explorer

This person is most likely to wake up one morning, feel bored and get a ticket on the train to a nearest village, country or fly to another planet. The biggest fear of Explorers is getting stuck in the routine, be it the surroundings or their own minds. They live in an endless seek of new experiences and emotions. However, they might find themselves wandering around aimlessly one day, as their intensions are a spark: now you have it, now you don’t. They are usually fun to be around, but their friends might feel upset once they leave for the sake of another person/lands/opportunities without even leaving a goodbye note.

6. The Rebel

Once this character sees the injustice, he is ready to destruct, break the rules, lead the army so the justice rules again. The Rebels can be good leaders once, their desire to fight the enemy is so poisonous and their charisma is usually so great that people follow them even if the situation is risky. However, they are ready to break the law (remember, they do not respect the law if they consider it to be a base for a not efficient system), they are ready to start a revolution, they can set the world on fire. The Rebels make good heroes as well as good villains, depending on which side the reader is.

This is it for now, keep on reading about the next 6 archetypes in the second part of this article on our website.

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