Archetypal characters are really character roles that we all play in life. Think of archetypes as masks that characters wear, like Ancient Greek actors. The archetypes, as defined by Victoria Lynn Schmidt in her highly recommended book 45 Master Characters, are best represented by the gods of the Ancient World.
Both women and men have different archetypes that they fall into and represent. For example the goddess Aphrodite is the embodiment of the seductive muse. She has a great love of life and has a very sensual nature. She is openly sexual and is a seducer and manipulates people with her charms.
However, Athena is a daddy’s girl and may frequently side with men against women to gain men’s admiration. She is a good and supportive wife. She wants to fit in and supports the patriarchal power structure.
Now these two archetypes can be represented by two completely different fictional characters. These two types of women may or may not be friends but they definitely will not see eye to eye and so there will be conflict between them and conflict is, of course, the source of great fiction.
Or, they can be embodied by one conflicted character. You see we all embody numerous types of archetypal characters, it’s just that some of them are stronger than others. So perhaps you’ve got a main character who represents Athena and has lived all her life playing by the rules in a man’s world. She’s a supportive wife and wants to fit in to society’s expectations of what she should be.
But, but, but maybe something has happened to make her question this archetype. Maybe her husband has had an affair. The rules of the game she has been playing have been broken and her inner Aphrodite is now struggling to come out.
No matter how you represent it the conflict between various archetypal characters will make for some great fiction.
Well, perhaps you’ve got a character who embodies the Greek god Apollo. This Archetype is strong, logical and always business minded, thinking about his work. He lives his life within the constraints of social convention doing this to get that and avoiding something because it will lead to something he doesn’t want.
He is goal oriented and successful in achieving them because he holds himself to a higher standard than other men.
Or perhaps you’ve got another character who is Hermes, the fool, who is still a boy and refuses to grow up. He’s an eternal child who will not act his age and is always looking for a good time. Consequently he avoids commitment and thinks climbing the corporate ladder is for the birds.
Do you see how these two characters might not get along?
When you use archetypal characters in fiction it makes it a much deeper and more satisfying experience because it appeals to the reader on a cellular level. These characters are real because they are the blueprint for what makes various people tick. Click here for a coupon on how to Create Fictional Characters People Pay Money To Read.