Howdy, humans! Two weeks ago, Exodus had its one month anniversary since release! It’s been a great month, and I’m so grateful for everyone who’s read it and told me their thoughts! In the meantime, I’m still writing, planning, and working out the bumps along the way. This week‘s post goes hand in hand with the previous one. Along with the hero’s journey, this is a tried and true aid to writing a that I’ve used for almost every project. These are archetypes- basic character types that show in any story and aid the process of planning.
Of course, this is a basic one. Every story needs a hero, a protagonist, someone to carry or narrate the story. Maybe you have an anti-hero, or your story follows multiple protagonists. Either way, this archetype refers to the simple main character(s) that every story needs.
Just as every story needs a hero, almost every hero needs a sidekick. This archetype can refer to multiple characters, or there could be a classic sidekick to your main. Either way, this is the character or group of characters that surround your hero and have their back in the tough times.
I don’t particularly like this one, but it’s broad enough to potentially represent many things. Named for your classic damsel in distress, the Maiden is whoever (or whatever) needs saving in your story. Maybe it’s literally a maiden, maybe it’s a dude, or maybe it’s the entire fictional world. Whatever your hero is doing, they’re doing for some purpose, and often times, the “maiden” serves as that motivation.
Gandalf, Dumbledore, Obi-Wan Kenobi. These are famous faces of the Mentor archetype, also known as the “wise old man”. Someone has to take your hero by the hand and show them how things are done. This is the mentor’s function, pushing your hero and teaching the, how to reach their full potential.
The child is one of the less obvious ones, but you can usually assign the role to some character in a given cast. This character is innocent, if not literally young, and may serve as someone your hero seeks to protect. They could be a little sibling, a pet, or a plucky robot companion.
Here we have my absolute favorite :) The trickster is meant to add a little fun to your story. Maybe they fall under the “Sidekick” cast of characters, but they bring a sense of humor that livens things up and distinguished them from the crowd. They could be a clownish figure, like the Weasly twins in Harry Potter, or they could be a swashbuckling, sarcastic figure in the form of Han Solo. Either way, tricksters are loads of fun both to write and to read.
The shapeshifter is an interesting character who comes in many forms. Ultimately, they provide a sense of mystery of intrusive to your story. They’re the person who’s motives are never really clear up until the end, or perhaps they experience a dramatic change of sides.
One of the most important parts of your story, the villain, or antagonist, provides opposition to the hero. They should be a fully realized character on their own, and if their motivations are understandable, or sympathetic, then you know you’re on the right track. Whatever opposes your hero, it must be compelling and pose a big enough challenge to create doubt that your hero could really prevail.
Mothers are amazing, and every story has some sort of nurturing figure. This could be the hero’s maternal figure, or that of any other character. Whoever she may be mother to, the maternal archetype is found in most any story and adds a wonderful touch of warmth.
The wonderful thing about these archetypes is that they can be combined, or some even possibly omitted to suit the needs of your story. If you’re in need of ideas for your cast of characters, these come very much in handy. I hope these help, and I hope y’all have a great week. Fly safe!