Personal archetypes

nineweaving has started a thread on the archetypes we each seem to have been dealt. Intriguing subject. I suppose this too applies to life as well as to fiction, but fiction brings our personal archetypes right to the surface.

I used to worry a little that I could see the same sorts of characters coming around again and again–and used to joke about finding, say, “Janni Character Type 1B” showing up in a story. But lately I’ve been thinking of it more as useful self-knowledge. Along the lines of, these are the sorts of characters that fascinate me. I want to make sure they’re not all alike, but writing to the same type is different from writing the same character. And once one realizes what one is doing, one can vary things, and more readily avoid cliche.

As I said in nineweaving‘s journal, to a first-order approximation I think my archetypes are the Lost Girl, the Arrogant Boy, and the Adventuring Child, which might, come to think of it, explain why I write for kids more often than adults. None of which need to be a girl, a boy, or a child, and all of which can have aspects of the Healer, the Farseer, and the Shifter.

The protagonist of Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer is, of course, an Adventuring Child. What’s fascinating there is that this is the first time that sort of character showed up in one of my stories. Every so often I would look at the page in a sort of fascination as I was writing, thinking, “Where did she come from?” But since then, she’s shown up in several other projects I’ve worked on. This is the sort of character that will take over the story if I let her, and who will keep talking to me long after the story is through. (One particular secondary Healer character of this sort is more and more loudly demanding a story of her own.)

The Lost Girl tends to prefer to fade into the background–no surprise. She’s the one I want to strangle. She doesn’t particularly want to say anything at all, and sometimes has to be dragged kicking and screaming (except she rarely kicks and screams) into the story.

The Arrogant Boy tends to hang around looking surly and intense, unless you let him be the protagonist, at which point he becomes all attitude, and will also take over (perhaps not so happily as the Adventuring Child, because he isn’t particularly happy anyway).

I suspect all of this is major oversimplification. But it’s fascinating stuff to ponder.

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