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Friday, February 10, 2017

What's The Deal With Inspiration And Archetypes by Sarah J. McNeal

Although I don’t depend on inspiration to get me through my story once I get started writing, I do need inspiration to develop a story line and plot it out. Knowing I need that inspiration, I have developed ways to get inspired—no sense in being passive about something this important.

I keep a writer’s journal and I carry a tiny notebook with me everywhere I go to jot down things like pieces of conversation I overhear in a restaurant, or someone who seems odd, or an event I witnessed. Most of all I know that images inspire me the most. I see a certain image in a magazine or on TV and I can imagine that image in a story I’m about to write.
National Geographic Mongolian Eagle Hunters

I saw a documentary on National Geographic about Mongolian hunters who use golden eagles to catch game when they go hunting on their sturdy ponies. That image of a man with a huge golden eagle he had trained so intrigued me that it became my character, the Gypsy, Pennytook. Of all my characters in the Legends of Winatuke trilogy, Pennytook the Gypsy, and Raphael, the Nimway prince were my favorites.
Pennytook Loves Horses And Knows Magic

Raphael’s archetype was the protagonist mixed with a bit jester and sidekick. Pennytook was the mixed archetypes of mentor, magician, and jester. I didn’t realize at the time that I had combined some of the archetypes because, quite frankly, I didn’t really know much about archetypes. I know. It’s sad, but true. It would be some time before I became acquainted with the archetypes for novels. Hey. Most of learn by doing. I would never claim to be a hifalutin’ know it all. I took many creative writing classes and cannot recall a single instance where archetypes were even mentioned. It sure would have saved me a lot of trouble if only I had that information. Fortunately, while I was a faithful member of RWA and my local CRW chapter, I learned about archetypes in a terrific workshop.

The 12 Common Archetypal Characters
The Caregiver
The Caregiver is typically a “parent” character who cares for the protagonist in some way. They desire to protect and care for others and are compassionate and generous. However, they’re often a martyr whose sacrifice aids the protagonist’s quest in some way.
The Creator
The Creator is some kind of creative and imaginative character. They can be an artist, inventor, writer, or musician, and are generally innovative and visionary. They seek to express themselves, their visions, and contribute to the overall culture through valuable creations.
The Explorer
The Explorer wants to experience new things and be free. They often seek self discovery through a physical journey. They seek a better, authentic life and fear conforming to the status quo, and believe adventure is around every corner. They can also be seen as pilgrims, individualists, or wanderers.
The Hero
The Hero is a character who seeks to prove their worth through courageous and heroic acts. They might be arrogant and fear being seen as weak or scared. They want to make the world a better place and never give up, regardless of the odds. They are a warrior, rescuer, soldier, and team player.
The Innocent
The Innocent is an optimistic character whose worst fear is doing something bad. They seek to always do the right things and have a certain naive innocence about them. They don’t seem to understand the harshness of the world and are continually stuck in a romantic, dreamy place.
The Jester
The Jester is a character who wants to enjoy their life and have a good time. They like to joke around and make other people laugh, and genuinely want to make the world a happier place. They might also be portrayed as a fool, a trickster, or a comedian.
The Lover
The Lover is a loyal companion who fears being unwanted or unloved. They’re passionate and committed, but they also desire to be more attractive to others and please everyone at the risk of losing their own identity. They might be portrayed as a partner, friend, or spouse.
The Magician
The Magician is a visionary who understands the way the world works. They fear accidental negative consequences and love finding win-win solutions to problems. However, in their search for knowledge and solutions, they often become manipulative. They might be portrayed as a shaman, a healer, or a charismatic leader.
The Orphan
The Orphan is the character who wants to belong more than anything. They fear being left out and being alone. They’re often down to earth and empathetic, but lose their own identity when trying to fit in. They are portrayed as the everyman, the guy/girl next door, or the silent majority.
The Rebel
The Rebel believes the rules are meant to be broken and wants to change something that isn’t working. While they might start out with a good goal in mind, they easily cross the line from rebellion to crime. They’re portrayed as revolutionaries or misfits.
The Ruler
The Ruler wants control and wants to create a successful community/society. They fear being overthrown and as a result, can become authoritarian or not delegate any roles to the people closest to them. They are the boss, the king/queen, politician, or role model.
The Sage
The Sage is a truth seeker who uses their intelligence to analyze the world. They fear ignorance and spend lots of time studying and self-reflecting. Because they fear ignorance, they may only study and never act on what they discover. They’re the scholar, philosopher, academic, and teacher.
Most of you are probably already familiar with these archetypes, but I wanted to share them with you. My characters don’t fit into just one type, but I think that’s okay, too
Have any of you written a character into an archetype intentionally? Did you plan your characters out using archetypes as a guide, or did you realize after you finished the piece that your characters fit into a certain archetype?

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:

 DARK ISLE, Book 1
The legend begins when love and evil collide.
Jade’s mother, Mahara, the malevolent queen of the Dark Isle holds the Nimway prince, Gabriel, in the castle’s dungeon. Jade cannot help falling in love with the whimsical Nimway whose magic lies in his voice.  But time is running out for Gabriel as Mahara plans a bloody war. Jade risks her life to seek help from an enemy, Gabriel’s brother, Raphael. Raphael gathers a band of brave friends to take the Dark Isle and free Gabriel. Among them is Raven who once ruled Valmora and escaped into the modern world from Mahara’s spell, a boy with a violin, a shape-shifter with regrets and Pennytook, the fun loving Gypsy who knows the ways of magic in Winatuke. The comrades travel on their quest toward the deadly evil of the Dark Isle. Will they save Prince Gabriel or will all of Winatuke fall beneath Mahara’s evil rule?

The legend continues with a curse, a quest and undying love.

Hawk is a troubled man with a secret. Emma is a burned-out doctor weighed down by emotional baggage. Can they forget their past long enough to save Hawk's brother, Peregrine, from dying beneath the curse of the Lake of Sorrows? Or will the secrets hidden within the Lake of Sorrows swallow them all under its evil enchantment?

A quest for an enchanted light...a Gypsy’s love...and a warrior’s sacrifice to save Valmora.

To free his father from the witch-queen of the Dark Isle, Falcon must find the legendary Light of Valmora that lies hidden in the darkest place on earth—right under the witch’s feet.  To complicate things further, he is falling in love with Izabelle, the Gypsy woman who loves his brother, Peregrine.
Izabelle struggles with her feelings for her first love, Peregrine, and her growing affection for his brother, Falcon.
No one may survive the quest for the Light of Valmora or the wicked queen of the Dark Isle who intends to rule the world of Winatuke.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


I've always been a pushover for the underdog. That is probably the reason I became a counselor in my "other life." Helping people solve their problems, pointing out their alternatives, and helping them map out a course of action was always very gratifying. So I suppose it was no wonder I was drawn to Mary Queen of Scots although it was several centuries too late to help her.
Skipton Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was a "guest." * 
My husband and I were living in England when I first became aware of this woman's sad plight. Oh, I had read enough history to be aware of  what happened but I had never before been close enough to the events to care. As we traveled the country on weekends, it seemed that Mary had stayed for a time in almost every castle we visited. I began to wonder why. When we went to Scotland and toured Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, we were shown the bed where Mary slept. It looked rather dilapidated and uncomfortable, covered with a nondescript gold-colored spread; yet in another  room a glass-enclosed bed was  covered with a spread of find tapestry. Why was a queen's bed left for tourists to bounce on if they chose while another bed was securely preserved simply for its finery, I asked myself.
Courtyard at Skipton Castle *

Much later, on another National Holiday weekend, we saw the site where Fotheringhay Castle had stood, and where the queen had lost her head, literally. There was only a small sign in a weed-covered field stating the castle's former location and no reference to Mary at all.

I began to ponder the inconsistencies. It seemed every castle in England wanted to claim that she had slept there, but the castle where she was beheaded no longer existed and castles are not easily destroyed. Even in her own country, she was almost ignored. I began to think of Mary Queen of Scots as an enigma and wanted to learn more about her. And the more I learned, the more sympathetic I felt. When I mentioned this to any of my English friends, it was quite obvious they did not share my sentiments. I suppose this had something to do with how the course of history would have been changed if Mary had somehow usurped the throne of her cousin, Good Queen Bess. But it is my opinion as an outsider that Mary would have been happy  to return to Scotland, rule her own land, and bring up her son James. And perhaps that might have made a difference in this boy king who allowed his own mother to die without lifting a finger to save her (though he finally did relent and have her entombed in Westminster Abbey)
Great   Hall at Skipton Castle *

In retrospect, I think it a pity that Mary didn't have better counselors to guide her.  There was her early marriage to Francis, that sickly boy who was heir to the throne of France.  Then the vain, ambitious Lord Darnley, and  worst of all, the ruthless Bothwell. Not a one of  them was worthy of her. By all accounts, she was beautiful and intelligent but she needed to learn to trust her own instincts. She made a lot of poor decisions, like stopping in England instead of going on to France when she fled Scotland for her life. My heart breaks for her--longing throughout all the years of her English captivity, to be invited to London to meet her cousin Elizabeth. And in her final hours, the way she met her death was an example of true courage.

And so, Queen Mary inserted her strong  personality into my thoughts until I was forced to put her into a book to get her out of my head. I had intended to give her a "walk-on" part but she had other ideas. She insisted on speaking! And I found myself creating other characters to showcase her. She did allow me to write a sweet romance between her innocent waiting-lady and a handsome, stalwart castle guard but she stayed in control of the story most of the time.

However, I can't begrudge her that. It was the least I could do for her. I really wanted to help her escape back to Scotland but one can't rewrite history without changing fact or fiction to fantasy, can one?  I hope that you will read Maid of the Midlands and that the tragedy of Queen Mary will touch your heart as it touched Matilda, Jondalar, and me. 

*Note: Skipton Castle (known as Hafton Castle in the book) was the setting for Maid of the Midlands. 





Thanks for reading my blog post today. I hope you'll leave a comment as I  always      welcome  hearing from others. And thank you for reading my books.  It is my wish that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. Stop by often. I'll be here again next month and there will be other authors posting in between.
Linda Swift
Tales that Touch the Heart