I’ve always struggled with archetypes.
The characters running around in my imagination rarely cooperate with the concept. Admittedly, creating characters by archetype does help you create realistic characters and conficts between those characters. An archetype, is a typical example of a certain person.
For example, the “bad boy” is an archetype. Too often the hero and the heroine, and even the villains, don’t mesh. Each has a strong personality and characteristics, however they don’t work well together.
Archetypes can help you make sure that your character’s actions and motivations are consistent.
While it may at first seem like character creation with the archetype system is limiting, it’s actually empowering if you stick with it. All of a sudden, within the framework of understanding your character, you’re able to envision more scenarios for conflict.
Conflict is essential for any genre fiction, however I think it’s even more important for romance.
If the characters don’t fit together naturally then the conflict within your story will feel forced or bland.
For example, maybe the heroine running around in your imagination is a little rough around the edges, she’s a tough girl with a heart of gold. And the hero is a playboy. He’s flirty and enjoys convincing people to do what he wants them to.
You have the characters solidly in your mind and you have a great plot. When you start writing them you may quickly realize that a playboy and a bad girl aren’t bound for a hot romance, they’re bound to be friends. Your bad girl is way too strong to let a flirty bad boy convince her of anything.
Now what? The story isn’t working.
You can go back to the drawing board and struggle to create characters that fit better. Personally, I enjoy a little guidance at this point. I’ve been checking out this software called Persona.
It allows you to create your characters and fill in all of the physical characteristics, notes, and personality characteristics you believe them to have. You choose the best archetype and sub-archetype that fits them. Then you can see how your hero and heroine might interact.
For example, if you identify your heroine as a fighter, you can see that the best hero archetype that she would interact with would be a teammate. You can also see what type of villain would really push her buttons.
What I Like About “Persona”
- Fully detailed descriptions about each archetype and sub-archetype
- The suggested connections helps build a framework for supporting characters in your story
- The Interactions feature is phenomenal. It shows you how your characters may interact. It points out potential conflicts. For example, I create a “Fighter” heroine and a “Playboy” hero. It shows how they clash, how they mesh, and how they change. This feature alone provides an abundance of inspiration for storytelling, plotting, and creating believable conflict.
- The ability to create unlimited characters and explore the interactions is great. You won’t lose character ideas. Additionally, there’re an abundance of room for notes and important details about your characters. You won’t be as likely to change their eye color half way through the book because you forgot if they were blue or brown.
- The Groups feature helps you organize your characters by book or series.
What I Don’t Like about Persona
My biggest issue so far, and admittedly I’ve only played around with the software and created about a half dozen characters, is that the archetypes seem to be limited. Realistically, I should give this more time as I haven’t really run out of possibilities yet nor have I felt limited by my options.
I love that there is a free trial and that the software is on sale right now. I took a class on archetypes once and I learned less in that month long class than I did in 30 minutes with this software. The class cost about five times what the software costs.
If you want to have strong characters that are rich, complex and that compliment one another this software may be one of the most useful tools I’ve ever come across. You can check it out here –