Character Archetypes: An Introduction

So, Squiders, over the next month we’re going to be looking at a series of the most common character archetypes.

What’s an archetype? An archetype is generally defined as something–a character, theme, or situation, for example–that can be considered “universal.”

Archetypes are somewhat controversial. Some people claim that they’re essential, and the everything can be broken down in a basic number of archetypes (though the number of “basic” archetypes seems to vary from expert to expert). Other people claim that archetypes lack depth, lack complexity, and if you use archetypes in your writing, you’re missing the nuances of real life and human behavior.

Archetypes are common throughout different forms of media (though some may be confined to a certain culture) and are often reoccurring across genre and time period. They’re often the basis of theories like universal consciousness and phrases like, “There’s only eight types of plots.”

I’ve picked 10 of the most common from various lists. We’ll look at two a week, examining what the definition of the archetype is, and also exploring characters that fall into said archetype.

Should be fun! I hope you’ll all come along with me.

But before we get started, what are your feelings on archetypes? Are they something you ever think about, or are characters just characters? Do you feel they are universal or overarcing?


5 responses to this post.

  1. I think it’s important for writers to be aware of character archetypes just so that they can understand how their writing in engaging with long-established literary tropes. Understanding the way these archetypes have been utilized in previous works can help aspiring writers learn the process of building a character while also preventing these writers from retreading the exact same path other writers have already forged.


  2. Posted by SleepyDragon1320 on 2015/05/16 at 3:40 PM

    I’ve found archetypes to be worth at least knowing and understanding. In some cases, it has helped me with plotting problems and getting the right character in the right place at the right time.


    • That’s an interesting thought–I’ve never considered character archetypes from a plotting point of view before!


      • Posted by SleepyDragon1320 on 2015/05/17 at 5:18 PM

        Might just be me and the way I think. I learnt about archetypes whilst in the middle of writing something and placing certain characters into one archetype or more just helped clarify plot points and ideas in my mind.

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