Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Writers Tips... Character inspiration

One way to make your characters more three-deminional is to give them the characteristics of those characters that have stood the test of time. The heroic characters of classic literature and myth. But how do you know all their nuances? Research. There are plenty of books that describe classic-types. I think I have at least two. The one I want to review today is 45 Master Characters, Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Schmidt.

The book is easily navigated. It starts with discussing Archtypes and why we should use them, the how to use the Archtypes.

"Archtype: Image, ideal, or pattern that has come to be considered a universal model. Archetypes are found in mythology, literature, and the arts, and are... largely unconscious image patterns that cross cultural boundaries." - Encarta

Section two lists the Female Heroes and Villains (Schmidt's own discovery of the Female Myth, after being told by her professors that there was no such thing, is fascinating), section three the Male Heroes and Villains. Following is Creating Supporting Characters, the Feminine and Masculine Journeys, Plotting the Feminine Journey, Plotting the Masculine Journey. The appendix includes worksheets.

Each Archtype's character is explained and then broken down to... What does s/he care about? What does s/he fear? What motivates her/him? How do other characters see her/him? Developing the character arc. Assets and flaws are also listed. Their villainous side is discussed, followed by examples of the character in TV, movies and literature.

Following is a list of the Archtypes covered in this book.

Female Heroes and Villains are:
   Aphrodite: The Seductive Muse and the Femme Fatale
   Artemis: The Amazon and the Grogon
   Athena: The Father's Daughter and the Backstabber
   Demeter: The Nurturer and the Overcontroling Mother
   Hera: The Matriarch and the Scorned Woman
   Hestia: The Mystic and the Betrayer
   Isis: The Female Messiah and the Destroyer
   Persephone: The Maiden and the Troubled Teen
Male Heroes and Villains
   Apollo: The Businessman and the Traitor
   Area: The Protector and the Gladiator
   Hades: The Recluse and the Warlock
   Hermes: The Fool and the Derelict
   Dionysus: The Woman's Man and the Seducer
   Osiris: The Male Messiah and the Punisher
   Poseidon: The Artist and the Abuser
   Zeus: The King and the Dictator

Reading the descriptions and examples you'll "see" your character in one of them, and once you understand that character type you'll be able to write a richer character.

Have you used Archtypes to help define your characters?

View more books on my bookshelf.

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