Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our Inner Archetypes

I was never as fascinated with archetypes as when I picked up Tami Cowden’s HEROES AND HEROINES. Wow, a whole encyclopedia of male and female personalities. Only problem was, I quickly realized I wasn’t focusing on the character examples that were used in literature and film, I was thinking about myself and the people around me.

Oh no. Could it be? I was a “Librarian.” A dull, down to earth, nose-in-the-book female, with a primal need to be swept off my feet by some bad boy. Ooo! Ooo! There was my best friend, Stacy. Yeah, she was defiantly a “Spunky Kid.” There wasn’t getting anything by that girl. And…how sweet! Yep, my dear husband fit right into the “Best Friend” category. Wait a minute! Wasn’t this book supposed to enrich my writing?

I reconsidered the heroes in my work. There was definitely a pattern. As a “Librarian” archetype myself, I was drawn to certain kinds of hero archetypes, much like a librarian character would be. Even when I created a different heroine archetype than the category I fell into, I was pairing her off with heroes that appealed to me. Was I forcing men on my poor helpless heroines?

Thinking about heroes and heroines is more important than we realize, before we start putting together a new manuscript. It’s one thing to lay out a plot, but to head into the unknown with only a mental image and some backstory on our characters, is really wasting time and watering down the potential of our story’s electricity.

Consider Scarlett and Rhett? Would there have even been a GONE WITH THE WIND if Rhett Butler in his “Bad Boy” way hadn’t been riveted to that saucy Southern “Seductress”? And what about Stephanie Meyer’s TWILIGHT? I’ll go out on a limb and say every girl’s favorite vampire is a “Lost Soul.” Would a “Bad Boy” have appealed to our spunky waif, Bella? Probably not.

I’ve taken another step in my author growth by spending time studying archetypes. Realizing who I am as writer, or, what character traits I am automatically drawn to, has given me an awareness to write not only more specifically, but to branch out into other personalities. So know your stuff when it comes to bad boys, best friends, and those alpha males. But break out of your own archetype and discover where you are coming from. Give yourself permission to create characters you never knew you had in you.

Danielle Thorne

Danielle Thorne published poetry and more for over fifteen years while freelancing the family life market. Her first two novels will be available at in 2009. Danielle is a member of Awe-Struck Authors, Epic Authors, Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction, Classic Romance Revival, The Sweetest Romance, and is a Long and Short of It reviewer. She lives south of Atlanta, Georgia. Visit her at to find out more about her and her historical, THE PRIVATEER, just released!


Miss Mae said...

I must say I'm drawn to redeemable "bad boys" as long as they aren't REALLY bad! LOL They may simply be lonely while not even recognizing they're searching for that special someone. And that special someone is, of course, the gal who "tames" him! LOL

I'm not exactly sure why that appeals to me. Hmm, maybe I ought to think on this. :)

Great article that gets you to reflecting, Danielle. :)

Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating blog, Danielle! It made me really think about characters and the kinds of characters I'm drawn to.

Cheryl Pierson said...

I enjoyed this post a lot. It made me think. I am very much drawn to the bad boys, because it's in me to have the "fixer" personality and want to find a way to get them "back on track." But would I still love them if they were "on track" to the point that they weren't bad anymore? LOL

Unknown said...

Never thought of reading as being drawn to a certain character type. I enjoyed your post and learned something about myself. Thanks for being my Thursday Tourist. Hope you'll come back again.


Linda Swift said...

Very good blog, Danielle. Lots of food for thought here. I'll have to digest all this slowly and take another look at my characters in light of your observations. Thanks. Liinda

DanielleThorne said... we all love bad boys? Guess so. It's the woman in us that wants to fix them. I think they're fun to read and write about--but most of us have the good sense not to get involved with them in real life...kudos to our best friends who sleep beside us at night and don't mind us writing romances.

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