Starting Simple – Character Archetypes

Hi everyone,

Something’s been nagging at the back of my mind lately, and I think I’m starting to figure out what it is.  And the thing of it is, it started a couple years ago.

Christopher Tatsu (Image Source - http://cdn.stylisheve.com)
Christopher Tatsu (Image Source – http://cdn.stylisheve.com)

Back when I was still going to a writer’s critique group, I took in chapter 1 of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy.  In that first chapter, I introduce Chris Tatsu as he is finishing up his college finals.  That first chapter needs tons of work, and in fact I’m thinking of scrapping it completely at this point and rearchitecting the beginning of the novel, but I digress.

In that first chapter, Chris runs into a classmate who is, in a sense, a stereotypical ‘surfer dude’ type.  What surprised me the most: two of the people in that critique group said that Chris was boring, but the stereotypical surfer dude was more interesting.

Do people really want more of the ‘stereotypes’ than more intricate and complex characters?

I don’t think so.  But I did have a thought…

Starting Simple and Building From There

Image Source - http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/
Image Source – http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/

Something I did in The Sword of Dragons was I took a lot of fantasy tropes and made my own spin on them.  The best example I always give: in book 1, there’s a dragon with a lair in a cave guarding a treasure.  Except, instead of an evil dragon who hoards gold, this dragon was a good, intelligent, kind spirit, who was protecting the most powerful artifact in the entire Universe.

And I’ve been thinking, at least for future projects…maybe I should continue this trend for future characters and projects.  Start with an archetype, but then make my own spin on that archetype.  Maybe this approach will allow readers to more easily connect and identify with characters from the start.

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/

I kind of already plan to do this with book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  I’m introducing a dwarf character early in book 3, and he is a bit of a conundrum.  You see, he’s got the attitude of a ‘stereotypical’ dwarf, but he fights that attitude, because he serves the elven College of Serelik (first mentioned in Burning Skies.)  So he’s expected to dress nice and act nice and remain well groomed.

But I’m also thinking of future projects beyond the Sword of Dragons series.  I have so many ideas that I hope I’ll actually be able to get to someday…and I think I want to try to model characters in such a fashion.  Start them off as archetypes, but turn those archetypes on their heads and make sure that the characters are their own, complex, unique entities.

What do you think, dear readers?  Do you find it easier to identify with archetypal characters who then go off to become their own, or would you rather have characters who don’t in any way fit a stereotype?

Final Note

I’m trying to work up the courage to do another VLog…because I have an important announcement to make, and I feel like just typing up a normal blog would not be appropriate for this announcement.  This will likely end up being outside of the normal Saturday blog cycle.  I’ve only done one other VLog in the past…is anyone here interested in seeing more?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

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