Today, I’m happy to be hosting Nutschell Windsor, who is on tour with Story Sprouts. Nutschell has written about a fascinating subject, and part proceeds from the book are in aid of the Philippine Typhoon Relief Efforts. I’m also taking part in the Online Marketing Symposium. That post is further down the page.
Using Archetypes to Create Your Characters
When writing a novel a writers should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
- ~ Ernest Hemingway
Characters are the vehicle by which a story is told. We see a story through their eyes, and our perception of an event is colored by their thoughts and feelings. So it’s very important that we build characters who are three-dimensional; characters who are so real we wouldn’t be surprised if they stepped off the page.
Hemingway’s stories were filled with characters we could easily relate to, or characters we’re drawn to because we can connect with them emotionally somehow. Perhaps we feel connected to these characters because we can relate to what they’re experiencing; maybe we feel drawn to their vibrant way of looking at things, or because we can live vicariously through their adventures.
Whatever the reason, we can only enjoy the characters when we understand them in some way; when we can relate to the emotions and thoughts that make them human. We are drawn to characters when we understand their goals and motivations; when we understand what makes them tick, what made them the way they are, why they do what they do and why they feel a certain way about certain things.
I usually come up with stories by combining a concept, or a “what if” question with a character. The protagonist comes to me with a complete history, a background story, a set of motivations and goals, and a list of obstacles that prevent her from achieving them. The tricky part is trying to get her to spill all of these secrets. But once I finally understand who my character is, the story naturally develops from there.
One way I can understand my character fully is by figuring out the archetype he/she represents. Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, who wrote What Story Are You Living, define an archetype as “a universal set of roles, situations, and themes that are recognizable to everyone.”
Everyone consciously or subconsciously recognizes an archetype when they see one. Why? Because archetypes are the driving force behind the universality of a character or a theme.
When I facilitated the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles’s (CBW-LA) first ever Writing Day Anthology Workshop last summer, I used a series of writing exercises to guide the participants through the process of producing two pieces which were published later on in STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY.
One of the exercises we used during the workshop was called “Shopping for Story Ideas.” I passed around a box full of photographs of various shops and stores around the world to help encourage setting ideas, a box of conflict cards to prompt possible plots, and a box of archetype cards based on Caroline Myss’s Archetype Cards to spark character ideas.
There are 80 cards in Caroline Myss’s Archetype Card set. Each card has a description of Light and Shadow (or good and bad) attributes for a specific archetype. The set also comes with a guidebook which gives a more detailed explanation for each archetype.
You can use the Archetype Cards or even just search the net for a list of archetypes to use as a jumping off point when creating your characters. If you base your characters on an archetype, anyone who reads your story will relate to the universality of this archetype and better understand what the character is about and what role he/she is playing in your story.
STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY 2013
STORY SPROUTS 2013 ANTHOLOGY STATISTICS:
· 19 Authors
· 38 Combined Anthology Entries – 2 per Contributing Author
· 6-hour Workshop
· 10 Writing Exercises (included in Story Sprouts)
· Dozens of Photo, Character and Conflict Prompts (included in Story Sprouts)
· 240 pages
What happens when linguistic lovers and tale tellers workshop together? Inspiration. Wonder. Discovery. Growth. Magic.
Brave and talented, the writers featured in this anthology took on the challenge of dedicating one day to the raw and creative process of writing.
A rare view into the building blocks of composition, Story Sprouts is made up of nearly 40 works of poetry and prose from 19 published and aspiring children's book authors.
This compilation includes all of the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft.
KINDLE & PRINT COPIES AVAILABLE THROUGH AMAZON. CLICK HERE.
Learn more about Story Sprouts at http://www.storysproutsanthology.com/
Join the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles at www.cbw-la.org
Find Nutschell at:
The Online Marketing Symposium is being run by Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, Jeremy Hawkins and Captain Alex. The concept is outlined below and the list of participating bloggers is here.
“On event day you tell us about a marketing idea that you've used and what worked or didn't work. Your post could describe a campaign that succeeded in a big or small way or one that failed drastically. Tell us about a business campaign, an organizational event, a fundraiser – anything where a bit of promotion was necessary!”
With each book published, I’ve tried different things. Here are five (5) approaches I’ve taken.
1. Blog Tour - I’ve only done one of these, but it worked because I focused on various aspects of friendship (based on the book’s 3 characters) and did something different at each stop.
2. Cross Promotion - I’ve worked with a group of authors, who also write romance and I’ve seen an uptick in sales. We’ve included each writer’s book on blog posts, tweeted, shared on Facebook and promoted the books up in our FB reading groups.
3. Prequels - I’ve done two of these for full-length novels and find this to be a good way of drawing in new readers. I keep the price low and the word count is approx. 12,000 and comes to around 15,000 with promos for other books included, which also help readers find more of my books.
4. Gathering Reviews - Using Story Cartel was a new approach for me. The site allows you to post a book for review. In exchange, your reviewers get copies of your books or vouchers. You choose. I didn’t get a lot of reviews from doing this, but that was because I didn’t do that much promotion. Of the 5 reviews I got, only 1 was on the thin side. Story Cartel is a good option if you’re looking for reviews to do a promotion on one of the sites that require a certain amount of reviews before they will take your advertising dollar.
5. Advertising - I advertised on this E-Reader News Today once in 2013 and it was well worth the effort. The site only took a percentage of my sales, which was reasonable. I've tried others that didn't work as well.
6. Yes, I know I said 5, but something that works for some authors are street teams. Now I know a good fan base is essential for this. These people, who are gung-ho about your books, will help spread the word and have the advantage of hearing about your new books way in advance. They also benefit from any complimentary stuff you can offer to reward them for their loyalty. I haven’t worked up the courage to step out and do something like this yet, but considering the changes at Facebook as it pertains to ‘pages’, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t scrap my fan page and go for a ‘group’.
I hope you’ve found some useful information here. In case you miss me, I’ll be visiting the other people in this symposium. Never fear though, I’ll get to you.