8 Key Female Archetypes to Consider for Your Novel

WritersWednesday

I found two awesome articles about Archetypes on C.S. Lakin’s blog and with her permission am sharing them for all you lovely people to see! Thank you so much C.S. for your insight and great resource! Here is the second article!

8 Key Female Archetypes to Consider for Your Novel

Last week we took a look at a number of diverse male archetypes that might inspire the characters in your fiction. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the female archetypes.

Archetypes can spark great ideas for characters because they are classic “types.” While one character might wear a particular archetypal “mask” throughout a story, sometimes characters will switch masks, depending on the situation and relationship involved.

You may think that fashioning a character to match all the qualities of a particular archetype might be like stereotyping, but that’s not necessarily so.  Within a “type,” there is room for much originality in personality and traits.

The idea here, when borrowing archetypal characteristics, is to look at the purpose as it relates to your premise, protagonist’s goal, and themes of your story.

We want to populate our novels with a diverse cast of characters, all of whom have a specific—purposeful—role to play. It may feel like generalization to turn an ally character into a Magi or Mentor archetype, but try to look at the markers of these types and see who might embody them and when and why and how.

I mentioned in a prior post that as I fleshed out my idea for my new novel that I just released, Colorado Dream, I’d already worked out who my hero and heroine already were—what personalities they’d have and what things were important to them.

After I’d done that important work (so that my characters would be just right for my premise), I researched archetypes to see just which ones might fit best. All in order to get deeper insights and spark plot and conflict ideas.

I found that my hero, Brett Hendricks was a perfect representation of The Protector (described in last week’s post). And it wasn’t hard to come up with the best archetype for my heroine, Angela, an aspiring musician.

Just knowing music was the center of her life made it easy to link her to the Mystic, who has a rich internal world, is extremely sensitive, and can feel the emotions of others.

The Mystic fears not having a place in the world, doesn’t want to depend on others, and covets her privacy and solitude. She needs to connect with something greater than herself.

Choosing this archetype for Angela promised much conflict, for Brett, as a Protector, would clash in many ways with his focus on his physicality, heedless to danger, and lack of creativity.

The challenge for me (as always, and one I love) was to find common ground between two seemingly unalike characters. When it comes to writing romance, to me, the trick is to make the hero and heroine as different as possible in many ways, but find common ground. Usually this is tied in with past trauma, and the big “fear” each has, as well as core need, is the same.

With my characters, both have abusive, domineering fathers. They both know what it’s like to yearn for parental love and instead get a slap instead of encouragement. They are both passionate about their gifts, and they see and respect the passion they see in the other.

So I hope you’re starting to whirl with ideas for your characters as you read these posts on archetypes. Let’s now take a look at the 8 key female archetypes.

8 Female Archetypes

1) The Seducer (Aphrodite): She cares about men, but loves being in control. This type rarely has true female friends. Women are competition. She is all about her body and appearance. She fears losing her beauty, being passed over. She is motivated by wanting to experience life sensually, to the full. She isn’t always “bad.” She can embody the powerful attractive woman who is seeking true love, but an extreme of this archetype can be a very vicious, backstabbing, manipulative woman.

2) The Amazon (Artemis): This type is the outdoors gal. She, in contrast to the Seducer, loves the company of her female friends. She is supportive of women and children, sometimes a feminist, one who stands up for causes, likes being self-sufficient. In extreme, this type can be headstrong, pushy, want instant gratification with no regard for others’ needs. She might be reckless, easily enraged, stubborn, or boastful.

3) The Father’s Daughter (Athena): This woman aligns herself with powerful men and supports them. She yearns for male approval and wants to be accepted into their circle. She values work, dresses professionally, is smart, but often can’t see or accept her female side (which she might consider weakness). She fears loss of control and might feel trapped in relationships. In extreme, she’s wholly self-centered, caring only about her needs and advancement, and because of that might lie, cheat, or destroy another to get to her goal.

4) The Nurturer (Demeter): As the name implies, she’s all about caring about others, often to her own detriment. She might work for children, charities, rarely considering her own needs. She’s a good listener and is generous. She fears losing those she cares for, and she just wants to be loved and have a sense of belonging. In extreme, this type might be passive-aggressive, angrily codependent, manipulative to appear unselfish and nurturing. The over-controlling mother.

5) The Matriarch (Hera): Being a wife is her life, and everything she does is to please her husband and family. Family is everything. She might be highly controlling of her “empire,” and enjoys entertaining to a fault. He biggest fear is losing her husband or children, or losing their love. She fears being alone in the world, being abandoned. In the extreme, this character type might become suicidal, threatening, paranoid, doing everything to save face—even destroy her family—in order to keep up appearances.

6) The Mystic (Hestia): The Mystic likes to be alone, and often doesn’t want to marry or have a family. She is very sensitive, creative, and fears constriction on her freedom and creativity. She longs to connect with something greater than herself. She is spiritual and fears not having time to be alone and pursue her creativity. She’s motivated by a need for balance and order in her life, and she’s sensitive to the plight of others, but she tends to live in a dream world. In the extreme, she is a loner or sociopath, is socially inept, afraid to take risks or make friends, feels so inadequate that she tries to please everyone around her.

7) The Female Messiah (Isis): This type of character is concerned about the plight of women and all living things. She wants to help others grow spiritually, find their path, be healed in body and soul. She fears being persecuted or misunderstood. She’s motivated by a sense of purpose, and in extreme, she’s dogmatic and unbendable, heartless at times, pushes others and punishes them.

8) The Maiden (Persephone): This type of woman cares about fun, not worrying about daily affairs. She feels carefree and invulnerable to trouble, and her self-confidence rubs off on others. She’s the party girl, regardless of her age, and hasn’t grown up. But she can have a big heart and helps others. She’s your BFF that stands by your side. She likes to meet new people and she takes care of her mother. She fears being trapped in a job or relationship, and she doesn’t want to appear naïve. She’s motivated by a need for safety and being different, and in the extreme, she might oppose authority (rebellious teen), get depressed, act out with bad behavior, and can’t seem to love anyone.

A Seducer might charm people to get her way. She might be a cool, calculating nemesis or a siren who entices.

The Amazon might be your boss, someone trying to climb the ladder, a confident and dynamic woman who seems to take charge and achieves big goals.

The Father’s Daughter might be a fun, loyal friend, team player, the one who sticks by your side and tells everyone else where they can go. She might be the girl next door or a coworker.

The Nurturer is ever the optimistic, telling you that you can do it. She might be the trend-setter, impulsive (let’s stop moping and go shopping!), and is often funny.

The Matriarch, controlled and clever, is analytical, detail-oriented, and often rigid in her manner and beliefs. She can be a know-it-all or a bookworm, a perfectionist that can drive you crazy.

The Mystic is sensitive and gentle. She might be that quiet, trusting, encouraging friend or someone who is just plain innocent and naïve.

The Female Messiah fights for your cause, meets her commitments. She is the stubborn sister or friend who is determined, quick-tempered, and says it like it is. She will tell you what you need to do in no uncertain terms.

The Maiden is the woman who brings peace and calm to a crazy situation. She is all about making peace, helping others get along. She inspires by her example of being capable, optimistic, and selfless. She might be a caregiver or a teacher.

Do any of these types sound like your characters? Can you find a place in your novel for a few of these female archetypes to make your story richer and push your conflict higher? Which type do you especially like?

A Look at 8 Key Male Archetypes for Your Novel

WritersWednesday

I found two awesome articles about Archetypes on C.S. Lakin’s blog and with her permission am sharing them for all you lovely people to see! Thank you so much C.S. for your insight and great resource! Here is the first article!

A Look at 8 Key Male Archetypes for Your Novel

While we don’t want to create cookie-cutter stereotyped characters, learning about archetypes can be tremendously helpful in character development. We’ve been talking about archetypes over the last week, so if you’ve missed some of these posts, start with this one.

The idea here is to find a type and go from there. Archetypes are all about personality and motivation, and by bringing in some of the traditional, established characteristics of specific archetypes, you can craft believable characters.

As I’ve mentioned in many posts, your novel or play or short story needs a cast of characters, unless your plot is about one person alone in the world (or some world).

These characters play various roles, and while the basic roles are ally, enemy(nemesis or antagonist), and lover, there is much more to consider than these general descriptions.

Some look at Greek gods as archetypes that can be utilized in character development, and if you modernize the qualities of these gods, you can see how you might transfer those over to your novel.

8 Basic Types for Male Characters

Let’s take a look at eight male character types, and as you read through them, think of how these types might possibly fit into your story. Don’t just pick a type because it’s interesting. Every character needs to serve the interests of your plot.

1) The Protector (Ares): He is all about being physical, spontaneous, impulsive. He will act first and think later. He wants to win, and he’s fiercely protective. He fears being constricted, bored, having to use his mind over body. He’s motivated by survival, and the extreme of this character can be violent, yearning to fight, with a poor self-image and bad temper.

2) The Businessman (Apollo): He is entrenched in his career, planning his life, competing, success. He fears failure in the workplace and getting too intimate. He keeps his emotional distance, afraid of rejection. He’s motivated by a need to succeed and a drive to compete. The extreme of this character tends to feel betrayed, wants revenge, is viciously competitive, and uses people.

3) The Recluse (Hades): The name tells all. He wants to be left alone, shuns others. He’s afraid of crowds, his emotions, of spinning out of control. His motivation springs from his need to understand himself and his world. In extreme, this type of man is antisocial, psychotic, terrified of rejection, intimidating, and shuns all affectionate relationships.

4) The Fool (Hermes): This character is a free spirit, seeking freedom, reckless adventures, often an eternal child (Puer Aeternas). He can also be very positive in his childlike, accepting ways. He fears losing his freedom, getting bored, being committed to relationships or deals. His motivation stems from the need to know and the desire to try everything. The extreme of this character is seen in the con man, one who hates authority, is self-absorbed, disregards law and propriety, lacks empathy.

5) The Lady’s Man (Dionysus): He’s all about sex, romance, flirting, pleasure. Physical satiation above all else. He fears losing appeal, losing his youth and virility, and avoids commitment or feeling trapped. He’s motivated by a deep need for love and acceptance, or a drive to win or seek fleeting pleasures to give him a sense of fulfillment. The extreme of this character can be possessive, abusive, disloyal, explosive.

6) The Messiah (Osiris): The male face of this archetype is all about being male, the power of the male personality, and the male psyche. He is concerned with healing the soul more than the body. He fears failure of his quest or purpose, being misunderstood or not taken seriously. He’s motivated by his desire to help others, sacrifice himself for the greater good. He’s driven by great purpose or vision and willing to battle whoever stands in his way. The extreme of this character is harshly critical of others who oppose his views, overly passionate so that he breaks others’ spirits and egos. He feels he is always right and all should believe the way he believes, and those who don’t, he punishes.

7) The Artist (Poseidon): He cares about his creativity, expressing his emotions. He worries what others think of him and wants to be treated fairly. He tries to appear he’s in control and is strong, though he often suffers self-doubt. He’s motivated by a drive to be admired, to be important, to stand out from the crowd. The extreme of this character is deceitful, manipulative, playing games with people’s hearts, reckless and angry, without boundaries and easily enraged. He’ll also hold a grudge forever.

8) The King (Zeus): He rules his kingdom—those in his life. He longs to be admired and in charge, respected, even worshipped. He wants to be the best of the best and pushes himself to get there. He fears competition—that someone will rise above him—someone younger, faster, stronger. He’s motivated by a strong need for approval and recognition and power. The extreme of this character is domineering, arrogant, oppressive, harsh, and often humiliates others.

Taking the Types a Step Further

What could you do with a Protector type? I mentioned last week how my hero in my new novel, Colorado Dream, is a perfect protector. He’s a kind of bad boy, walking on the wild side. This type might be very charismatic, volatile.

A Businessman type could be a leader of a bank, an Army platoon, a think tank. He might be a workaholic. He might be the guy who makes great decisions, motivates others, takes on responsibility.

The Recluse could be a troubled coworker. Or a serial killer. He might be the outcast in a classroom, tormented, brooding. A great “red herring” character who all tend to blame.

The Fool could also be a strong, quiet good friend who advises. Who’s faithful and supportive, doesn’t cause waves and is unassertive. He could be Mr. Nice Guy or the listening ear at work.

The Lady’s Man is a charmer, smooth talker. He might get so lost in his fantasies, his “real life” is falling apart. Some other possible characteristics are his flair for drama, his enthusiasm, ability to manipulate.

The Messiah might be a knowledgeable professor or scientist that has the answers. He might be a computer nerd who is neurotic about getting all the answers. He can be amazingly creative but stubborn and inflexible. He could be picky, hating change or anything that disrupts his life.

The Artist is the guy in the room who adds the spark. He’s adventurous, fun-loving, craving excitement, and can be wholly unreliable and foolhardy. You see in him the daredevil or the explorer. He can spur on your protagonist to make a scary choice, or he can be an antagonist that leads your hero into trouble.

The King might be your hero, idealistic, a champion, acting with honor. Or he might be your heroine’s love interest or a character who noble ideals and principles inspires your hero. He might be the avenger of wrongs or the knight in shining armor.

Supporting Friends

Other archetypal roles can be found in The Magi (the voice of wisdom, the one who helps empower your hero), the Mentor (who freely offers good advice and wants to come alongside your hero), and the Best Friend or Lover.

Think about all the male characters, major and minor, you have in your novel. See how these various traits might enrich them and create conflict. You might need to add a few more characters in there, to create a wider palette of character dynamics.

What archetype intrigues you the most? Which one best fits your primary male character in your story, and which particular characteristic do you like in him? (And can you sing the Underdog theme?)

Is Research Necessary? – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

Is Research Necessary?

Welcome to Writers Wednesday!

When I think of doing research the first thing that springs to mind is a historical novel. But I have learn in writing a dystopian series as well as sci-fi that research can be necessary for just about anything you write.

You hear people say all the time, “write what you know.” But what if you want to write about a sword wielding vampire? Are you a sword wielding vampire? Maybe, but probably not. So how do you write about them?

Or how about the fact that you live in Massachusetts and you want to write about Montana, but you’ve never even been to Montana. How do you do that? Or what if you want to write about a Hollywood Starlet or BDSM or Norse Gods?

The answer is simple. Research.

You have to do research in just about every book you write, unless you are writing exactly what you know. I live in California and even I had to do a few minutes of research when I wanted my characters to meet in downtown Los Angeles. I drive to downtown on a weekly basis. But I don’t drive from the 10 to Hollywood Blvd in rush hour all the time. So I had to research how long that would take. Research is inherent to your writing unless you are making everything up yourself.

So if you are going to research where do you start? How far do you go? How much do you use? When do you stop?

Well, how do you know if you need to research? If you don’t know something, you need to research it. That is, if you want to be accurate. If you don’t know the name of the Chinese dynasty from the third century, find out. If you don’t know the proper street names of the business district in Chicago, research it. If you don’t know the difference between a parry and a thrust in a sword fight, find out.

Yes, there are times you can try to fudge it, but unless you are creating your own world then I don’t recommend it. And you can never fudge it in a historical. They will crucify you. Same with science in a hard core Sci-Fi novel. Don’t even try.

So, now we know we need to research, the question is: Where do we go for the info? Yes, the internet is certainly easy to access and there are thousands of websites to choose from, but you need to vet your sources to make sure they are correct. Just because you google it doesn’t mean it’s true.

When I wanted to incorporate Tesla into one of my stories I first read about him on the internet. Then I went to the library and checked out half a dozen books on him. A library is a great place to get information. Google professors who know about what you are looking up and ask them. Ask on your RWA boards for help. There are dozens of places you can go for help if you just look.

But you need to be careful. I know many authors who research for years and never get their novel finished because of it. Sometimes it is hard to remember that research is there to help you with your novel. Not to become your primary focus.

Lastly, how much do you use in your novel? That’s up to you but I would say for all of the research you do you probably won’t use a tenth of it. And that’s okay. It’s you as an author who needs to know it.

For me, I need to know how to swordplay for my Fairelle series. I have done extensive research on weapons and fencing and battles and injuries and armor. Now you won’t learn about the armor my hero puts on, or how he ties every tie or the buckles he can’t reach that his manservant has to help him with. But you will read my fight scenes and see how realistic they are. You’ll read about the swords they use and not think, “There’s no way she could lift that.” When my guys get injured, it’s realistic. All because of my research. You won’t know why it’s so real, you’ll just know that it isn’t fake.

And that’s what we are going for as a writer and why we do our research. To suspend disbelief in our readers. Anything less with pull them out of the story and possibly write a scathing review about how poorly it was written.

Personally, research is not my favorite thing to do, but I do it to be better. I do it to write better and I do it for my characters. Because in the end, they will kick my butt if I make them look bad.

So tell me some of the most fun things you’ve ever researched for a book? This last week I researched baby names meaning: Devil, Demon, Malevolent, Poisonous, Evil.