Developing a list of good character traits will go a long way to shaping your novel. Why is this?
Don’t believe me?
Can you imagine The Dude from The Big Lebowski on the deck of a 19th century whaling ship or, how about Captain Ahab in a bowling alley in Los Angeles?
It just ain’t gonna happen.
That is because everything in your novel arises from the characters.
But how do you develop a list of good character traits?
A great way is to draw from archetypes that are represented by the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece.
The Fool: Hermes
You wouldn’t think that a fool would make for a good hero, would you? But, it really depends on the type of story you are telling.
Don Quixote, Peter Pan and Puck from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream all exhibit the goodcharacter traits of a fool.
The Fool never seemed to grow up. He’s a boy trapped in a man’s body. He…
- Has no inferiority complexes
- Thinks everyone but him live boring and mundane lives
- Always has a good time
- Lives in the moment and is (tries to be) gone before the consequences catch up to him
Now these character traits would make for a pretty interesting hero don’t you think?
Let’s take a look at another.
The Maiden, Persephone
As a heroine in a novel this type of character is never stressed out. Her life is charmed and she leaves other people to worry about the small stuff.
Hmm? She’s a bit like Hermes in that she is..
- Free to take risks because she oblivious the consequences
- She could be fifteen or fifty years old she’s still out to have a good time
When you think of the maiden characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Lolita and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet fame, should come to mind.
Two Crazy Kids
Now you’ve got an idea of these two crazy kids. How do they shape your novel?
These character types might be perfect as the hero and heroine of their own separate novels. But, they might be even better as a romantic couple in the same novel.
And by being good together, I mean… for the reader. They are too similar to each other and would be a terrible combination in reality. They are both out for a good time and avoid commitments like the plague.
Consequently, the novel might be a romantic comedy.
One Thing Leads To Another
We started with a male character and who doesn’t like commitments. Then we developed another list of traits for a female character.
It could have been a seductive muse like Aphrodite or a matriarchal figure like Hera and it would have been a completely different story.
But, by chance, we chose to develop a character based on the archetype of Persephone. This led to the idea of a romantic comedy.
Or it could be a tragedy like Romeo and Juliet. It is up to you to decide. But, once you have a list of good character traits the ideas that will shape your novel will come more easily.
These archetypal characters and their traits are borrowed from the highly recommended book 45 Master Characters Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters.
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