Over the weekend, I was able to get some much needed novel-editing done. I actually finished my first read-through of my first draft on Sunday! Which for some people may not be much of an accomplishment, but for me it is. I've never gotten this far in the process before and I'm really excited. I can't wait to get going on the rewrites and getting into draft 2. It'll be a pain to do, but again, it's the farthest I've gotten in the novel writing process and I want to keep the momentum going.
While I was editing, I was listening to 8tracks radio, and stumbled onto a playlist called The 12 Character Archetypes. The title explains it all. It was a playlist inspired by the 12 character archetypes and for writers needing a bit of character inspiration. Over the last couple of days it's become a new favorite playlist and it'll be used pretty often I'm sure during writing sessions.
If you're scratching your head wondering what the heck I'm talking about, I'll explain. From what I know, it's based off of older psychology that there are 12 main "characters" or "personalities" and most people fall into these categories. (Read this article.) Writers sometimes use them to help categorize/plan/form/build their cast of characters. When you think about the 12 archetypes, you'll notice they pop up over and over again in literature.
The 12 archetypes are:
- The Innocent (Disney's Cinderella)
- The Orphan/Every man (George Bailey from It's A Wonderful Life)
- The Hero (Harry Potter - who also could be the orphan)
- The Caregiver (almost any good mom in a sitcom ever)
- The Explorer (Odysseus)
- The Rebel (Puck in Glee)
- The Lover (Romeo and Juliet)
- The Creator (Leonardo DiVinci in Ever After)
- The Jester (Fred and George Weasley)
- The Sage (Dumbledore)
- The Magician (Geanie in Alladin)
- The Ruler (Evil Queen types)
Feel free to disagree with any of my examples. Also, there are a ton of other archetypes and theories and different names for each of these. (That's what the comments are for!) This is simply what the playlist was based off of.
Naturally, since I was working on writing, this got me to thinking about my own characters. However, I found it hard to categorize them.
There were a few I knew for sure which archetype they would be. Then there were others where I could see them as three or four of them! Which, I suppose there isn't a rule where your characters need to be only one archetype. But I feel one would probably be more dominant than the others. If that make any sense. (It does in my head... so that counts!)
As I worked I was able to categorize most of my characters, and it helped me see where I have some character holes. Not that all 12 are needed, but some of these character types are handy to have. The Jester would be one of them. What's a story without some good comic relief?
It was a good character development exersice, and as I researched other types, I was able to find some that fit my characters much better than these 12. However, I'm not sure if I like putting them into categories.
On the one hand - it's useful for staying organized and developing characters. It makes for a well-rounded cast and it helps the writer to be sure they don't all have the same personalities. It also helps to better understand characters.
On the other hand - a character might not fit any of the archetypes, or they may fit multiple. They may have a touch of hero with a dash of lover and some jester on the side. How do you determine which one they are?
What do you all think? If you're a writer, how do you work on characterization? Do you use archetypes? If you don't write, what are some of your favorite examples of these twelve?