Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10 Characters with Character

The following is a list of memorable additions to any story. A common thread within all of us keeps drawing us to these characters. Archetypes? Who cares. Make them your own and put ‘em in. They are great and belong to the world.

1) Grand Dame – The world is her oyster and she wants to bring you along for the ride. She has no time to bother with laws or customs as she laughs her way through adventures. A life of wild experiences in the unrelenting pursuit of fun.

2) Outcast – Shunned by their peers the Outcast does not conform, and leads a richer life along the way. Perhaps they know the best underground rock bands or read poetry in the woods under the moonlight. The key is that their seemingly skewed way of looking at the world is the right way to see what’s going down.

3) Moxie – Sassy, Saucy, irreverent and irresistible.

4) Mystic – Old man/woman with secrets and wisdom, perhaps a shaman, who somehow knows what is transpiring in the story. They have knowledge or magic to aid in the struggle.

5) Hell or High Water – The friend who will be there no matter what. Usually this friend is mired in problems of their own. Death of this friend is perhaps the most devastating blow.

6) Weebol – The character that can’t be kept down no matter how many times they’ve been knocked over. They may waver, but they never give up, never.

7) Fish Out of Water – The ‘farmer’ in the ‘big city’ or the ‘businessperson’ on the ‘farm.’ Whatever the juxtaposition, the characters end up learning from one another, but not until after their drastically different points of view have collided on numerous occasions.

8) Legend – Word of their great deeds precede them. Maybe they are down on their luck and disappoint or maybe they are just tired of having to live up to expectations. Usually at least one character already worships the Legend. Perhaps it is enough the Legend passes on what they know or they perform one last time...

9) Artist – Quirky, free spirit, maybe too attractive for their own good. The artist has a vision and wants to be understood, but usually they are lost in their own world. Circumstance or another character must release this world.

10) Evil Genius – A character so cunning that the protagonist is extended farther than they ever dreamed. The Evil Genius has an edge; they don’t have to play by the rules, laws or acts of decency. They perhaps know science or medicine and are on the loose, so look out!


  1. Love it. We feel comfortable and safe with a bit of archetype to keep us company. Moliere forever! : )

  2. As I read your blog post, I sat there nodding my head. Yep, I recognized all these characters and realized how much we writers use them. They're more than "comfort food," they're essential. Thanks!
    Pam Zollman

  3. I enjoyed this post. Just wondering which comes first? Do you plan on using these archetypes or do your characters just sort of grow into them?

  4. Good Comment Susan! Both. When I give myself the honest once over I know that I had an archetype in mind from the gitgo, other characters seem magically to drift over to the archetype...Either way I hope my own unique stamp will shine through.