Friday, April 1, 2011

Welcome to The Character Depot and my version of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

In keeping with the theme of this blog, I’ll be posting a little something each day to do with characters. It won’t be blah, blah, blah, boring stuff (I hope), but snippets of information to help with moulding unique characters.  I’ll also add a few links connected to the subject of the day.

Aside from that, I’ll be posting pictures of a Jamaica food item and/or a word taken from the local language (Patois).

Here’s to 26 days of sustained blogging and new connections! 

Today's topic is Archetypes. 

Whether we know it or not, we build our characters based on certain personality traits, patterns or archetypes. These recognized ‘original models’ or ‘prototypes’ were defined by renowned Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung as being familiar to all of us based on our experiences. If I say Alpha Male or Alpha Female, you’ll know that I’m referring to aggressive, powerful, and driven individuals. 

From these originals, a host of other models have developed. The danger we face as writers is that if we’re not careful we run the risk of creating the same leading character each time. He may be the Alpha male mentioned above, who takes charge of every situation and fixes everybody’s problems, or the scapegoat, responsible for everything that goes wrong, or possibly the helpless woman or wily vixen.

In storytelling, the main archetypes are characters, situations and symbols that we use as plot lines and storytelling aids. Take a look at the sample below.

Characters – evil persona, hero, innocent, mother figure, outcast, scapegoat, shrew, teacher/mentor, temptress, thwarted lovers, trickster, underdog, villain

Situations/Story Lines – a task/trial, fall from grace, journey and/or quest, coming of age/loss of innocence

Symbols – animals, bodies of water, caves, colours, darkness, dreams, flowers, gardens/forests/trees, islands, light, mountains, seasons, tunnels, valleys, weather.

I’ve read a time or three that there are no original stories left to tell, and the Bible confirms that there is nothing new under the sun, yet writers continue to amaze me by putting their own interpretation to old scenarios.

How you do craft your stories to avoid easily recognizable archetypes?

Useful links re: archetypes:-

Jung’s Archetypes   
A Gallery of Archetypes 
Northrop Frye's Theory of Archetypes
Understanding Literary Archetypes
Quiz – Which Literary Archetype are you?

Today's food item is the Ackee, which is a fruit.  It grows on trees and is poisonous if you don't know how to prepare it properly. When cooked and served with codfish (or saltfish as Jamaicans call it) it's our National Dish - Ackee & Saltfish.


  1. I use Florence Littauer's "Personality Plus" and build my characters from that point.

  2. I haven't seen an Ackee before. Cool.

    I haven't researched much into Archtypes before but I want to check out the links.

  3. You brought back memories, mentioning ackee rice and salt fish.. you are too young to remember that Jamaican calypso, probably. :0)

    Kind regards, Carole.

  4. Thanks for the links! Usually I try to fully develop my characters and then examine them to see if there is anything too obvious. I think most of the time trying to develop a complex character will take care of the rest.

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  6. Diane, I'll check out that resource.

    Clarissa, glad to introduce something new! Ackee is delicious.

    Carole, we still have Calypso Corner on the radio each morning, so we get at least a taste of that form of music. I like the witty lyrics.

    Sierra, no problem. I want to give helpful links with all the posts.

  7. great topic - - thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Wow, that looks yummy!

    Great topic on archetypes. I have a hard time making sure I'm not writing the same old clich├ęd people that I've read about time and again!

  9. Glad to help, Margo.

    No problem, Carole.

    Glad you found the post interesting, Su.

  10. It's always good to learn more about creating characters. Good luck with the challenge!

  11. I have a pretty good idea what type of person the villain and hero are before I start writing. When I do need to add more dimension, I look up information in the book, 45 Master Characters, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. It's an excellent book.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

  12. Great start to the April challenge, and I love Ackee and Saltfish too. I discovered it on a 3 week trip to Kingston, installing a computer system in Rockfort.

  13. Ooooh, Archetypes, not to be confused with cliches.

  14. Sandra, I believe in learning something new everyday so I agree with you. I'll definitely need to pace myself on the Challenge.

    N.R. Thanks for sharing the name of that book.

    Tony, Ackee & Saltfish I would eat everyday. Thanks for stopping in.

    Angela, you got that right. :D Thanks for visiting!

  15. Good luck to all 1050 of us! This A-Z challenge is going to be ca-razy! I love archetypes by the way, I use Caroline Myss's archetype cards to help inspire me with character creation sometimes.

  16. You can say that again, nutshcell. I'll need to look at your post again to pick up some gems.

  17. Ooh, excellent "A" choice. Character archetypes are fascinating. Your blog is really interesting, and I can't wait to come back to read more!

    xoxo Sarah

  18. Love this post! Ackee sounds very interesting. Mmmm

    When I'm writing my stories, I always get the hubby's advice. He's SO GOOD AT SAYIN' "not gonna fly." ;) He has been chased outta my office more than once. Then I have to go and apologize. Because when I write it, I think it's SO GOOD! SO AWESOME! He brings me back to earth. (((hugs)))

  19. Good rundown on this topic. I think archetypes are certainly necessary in literature as it reflects our perception of things as we see them in everyday life.

    Contrary to my usual practice of subscribing to comments, to save time during challenge I will not be doing so during April. If you want to respond to my comment , please email me directly from your email notification for the comment.

    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

  20. Robyn, now there's a guy who's earning his keep in more ways than one.

    Thanks for weighing in, Arlee. I know this is gonna be a very busy time for you.

  21. Ooh, I've not have Ackee and Saltfish! Looks yum!

    Thanks for sharing these Archetypes links too! ;-)

  22. I didn't know there was gonna be a test!!!

    Honestly, I hadn't thought about this. Ahem.

    My first wip is very slow going because I don't want it to be a cliche in any way at all. My nano novel has yet to be edited and it could easily become a cliche, so I'm being very careful with it.

    Very good info, thanks!

  23. Talei, it is yummy. If you ever get the chance, don't hesitate to sample it.

    Words Crafter - better to err on the side of caution as you have than to find out you have a cliched character and story line. Good strategy to take your time.

  24. Great post for the A day. I think for me, it helps starting with my characters. Often when I get an idea it comes with a main character and so far they don't seem to fall in the too similar to each other trap. But we'll have to wait and see once I get anything ready to submit to readers and/or publishers.

    Getting to know characters helps too. On one of the blogs I am involved with, we post as if it is the characters doing the writing. Has made me understand and have more depth to my characters.

  25. Interesting post. It was inspiring too... gave me an idea for a murder mystery based on the Ackee fruit.

  26. Interesting. I had never thought about this. I will have to read more. I loved the dish. It looks amazing.

    Stopping by from the challenge

  27. Dawn, that's a challenge I face too, trying not to have each main character with the same qualities. Cool idea on the blog. I did pop over for a minute to the Cafe. Will check in again.

    Doralynn, I hope you write that story!

    Dafeenah, have fun with it.
    The dish is one of my favourites. Wouldn't tire of it if I had it everyday. :)

  28. Nice posting. I agree that we do have to be aware to not create the same characters and situations...thanks for sharing. BTW love ackee and saltfish :-)

  29. Thanks for dropping in and sharing your views, Yves.

  30. I love getting in to archtypes and seeing how they work in my novels. A.J. had a great idea with her Throwback Thursday post on the A to Z this year! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @


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