When I was looking for explanations of the Conflict Archetypes, I discovered that there are also Character Archetypes. We only discussed the usual protagonist and antagonist. It opened my eyes to see a description of these other six types of characters. I’m sure your mind will say, “Oh, yes. I know what she’s talking about.”
You can read the book called Dramatica: A New Theory of Story by Melanie Phillips and Chris Huntley. You can also read an excerpt from chapter 4 of the book at this webpage: http://storymind.com/dramatica/dramatica_theory_book/chapter_04.html
Eight different character archetypes to oppose each other’s way of thinking and acting. Donald Maass in his Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great suggests that each novel must have conflict on each page, in each scene. Thinking of the characters in your novel as serving the job for each of these will do just that. It will bring conflict to your story. These character archetypes will also move the plot along. They can add page turning events and decisions. They will add depth to your writing and reach the reader on different levels. It will explain your story emotionally, from the heart, from the mind, and show possible consequences. I see potential. It’s possible that you already have characters performing these jobs in your story. See how good you are!
Protagonist/Antagonist Protagonist wants to start or stop something. Antagonist wants to stop the protagonist from reaching his goal at all costs.
Guardian/Contagonist Guardian character is the teacher/helper/mentor who eliminates obstacles and shows the good and the bad things on the path and how to make the best of the situation. The Contagonist character is one who puts things in the path of the protagonist to slow him down. He offers temptations that will keep the protagonist from focusing on the problem, thereby slowing down the chances of his success, but not stopping him. He can be the antagonists second in command to him. A diversion to keep the protagonist from working on the goal.
Sidekick/Skeptic Sidekick character is faithful supporter, has confidence in either the Protagonist or Antagonist. The Skeptic disbelieves and has no confidence in the one that the Sidekick supports.
Reason/Emotion Reason character makes decisions based only on logic. Reason has no heart. Emotion character is in a frenzy and makes decisions based only on emotions. Emotion uses heart.
Here’s a chart from Useful Charts.com showing the Jungian archetypes in movies. It includes Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and others. The eight character archetypes above will get your wheels turning on how to add them to your picture books, short stories, chapter books, poems, or novels.
Since I’ve been introduced to these today, I’ve been thinking of stories where characters played these roles for the author in telling stories.
Lone Ranger’s Sidekick was Tonto in the Lone Ranger.
Yoda was Guardian of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
I’m sure you can think of others.
Here is a link to other kinds of detailed character archetypes you can look at later. They don’t make as much sense and are not as useful in the list format.
Chinese Zodiac Archetypes; Species and Spirit Archetypes, Challenges to a Hero, The Hero’s Journey (Campbell and Jung); Poetical forms: http://www.listology.com/list/character-archetypes
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Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright 2010 Joan Y. Edwards. All rights reserved.
Filed under: Writing Tagged: | 8 archetypes of characters, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great, Antagonist, Contagonist, Donald Maass, Dramatica: A New Theory of Story, emotion, Melanie Phillips and Chris Huntley, Protagonist, Purpose, Reason, The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Writing, Writing the Breakout Novel, written by Joan Y. Edwards