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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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?
LAKE OF SORROWS, Book 2
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?
THE LIGHT OF VALMORA, Book 3
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.
THE BOXED SET OF LEGENDS OF WINATUKE BOOKS FOR ONLY 99 CENTS!