8 Master Archetypes

Monday, October 13, 2008
My favorite presenter was Tami Cowden, author of Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines—which I plan on buying. I went to both her workshop on Dynamic Heroes and Dynamic Heroines (I’ll do heroines later). Fabulous information. Here’s my notes (with some of my own thoughts mixed in), enjoy!

Dynamic Heroes

Archetypes (reaccuring symbol, model, or pattern) are created by the character’s motivations and actions (the two can be conflicted).

· Core Archetype—character remains the same throughout story
· Evolving archetype—begins as one/transforms to another
· Layered—more than one archetype
o World views and attitudes—not actions of 2 archetypes
o Ie: MacGyver—warrior and professor, Rhett Butler—chief and bad boy.

Tips for creating realistic archetypes:

1. Goals must be both tangible and intangible (ie—Hero wants to save the farm because it’s been in the family for 4 generations=intangible. Hero wants to save the farm because he needs a place to live=tangible).
2. Villains should never think of themselves as evil. Their actions seem right to them.
3. Character=views and motivations

8 Archetypes identified:

1. The Chief (alpha hero)-powerful. Motivated by the need to control.

· Virtues
--goal oriented
--decisive (follows through)

· Flaws:
--married to careers
--not family guys (unloving)
--stubborn (always right)

--ie-Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, Nicholas Cage in Family Life


2. The Bad Boy—sons of Chiefs. Motivated by rebellion (in control of others, but not themselves).

· Virtues
--street smart (savvy)
--can do the right thing, but are resentful/spiteful about it

· Flaws

--ie Founding Fathers, Rebels, Dr. House, Wolverine

--Villain=Disfavored son.

3. Charmer—motivation=Do as little as possible to get what they want.

· Virtues:

· Flaws

ie. McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy, Cary Grant, Charlie Harper in Two and a Half Men, Magnum PI


4. The Best Friend (often side kicks)—motivation is to fit in and family.

· Virtues

· Flaws
--complacent/lacking ambition
--people run all over them

Ie—George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, George in Grey’s Anatomy, Sam in LOR

Villain=Traitor. Someone’s moving on and leaving them behind.

5. The Lost Soul—motivation is to become part of the family of man

· Virtues

· Flaws:
--overly sentimental
--tortured by past/disfigured/traumatized/Dark past they are trying to recover from

Ie—Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, Dexter, Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Monk.

Villain=The outcast.

6. The Professor—motivated by knowledge/truth.

· Virtues

· Flaws
--insular—don’t feel emotion
--Inhibited—don’t express emotions

Ie-Spock, Gil Grissom, Dr Reed in Criminal Minds

Villain=evil genius

7. The Swashbuckler—Motivated by adventure

· Virtues

· Flaws
--unreliable/chases fun

Ie—Hans Solo, Layne Frost (bull rider), Austin Powers, Jack Sparrow


8. The Warrior—motivated by their cause

· Virtues

· Flaws
--self righteous

Ie—Luke and Anakin (sp?) Skywalker, Maximus, Superman, Spiderman


So what's your opinion? Are there really 8 Master Archetypes? Can you think of more?

Whew! Awesome stuff though. Gives you some idea of where your characters fit and what flaws you can give them to be more realistic. It’s kinda fun to go through this and place all your characters.

Well, I'm back to my antibiotics and nasal steroids (will I have hairy nostrils and a muscular nose now? Imagine my nose as the Arnold Swartzenegger of noses. Perish the thought!)


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