Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

What Are Archetypes?

Writers often get confused about — or neglect all together — the Archetypes in storytelling. Here is a snippet form Chris Vogler’s site, The Writer’s Journey as a refresher.

ARCHETYPES are recurring patterns of human behavior, symbolized by standard types of characters in movies and stories.

HEROES

Central figures in stories. Everyone is the hero of his or her own myth.

SHADOWS

Villains and enemies, perhaps the enemy within. The dark side of the Force, the repressed possibilities of the hero, his or her potential for evil. Can be other kinds of repression, such as repressed grief, anger, frustration or creativity that is dangerous if it doesn’t have an outlet.

MENTORS

The hero’s guide or guiding principles. Yoda, Merlin, a great coach or teacher.

HERALD

One who brings the Call to Adventure. Could be a person or an event.

THRESHOLD GUARDIANS

The forces that stand in the way at important turning points, including jealous enemies, professional gatekeepers, or your own fears and doubts.

SHAPESHIFTERS

In stories, creatures like vampires or werewolves who change shape. In life, the shapeshifter represents change. The way other people (or our perceptions of them) keep changing. The opposite sex, the way people can be two-faced.

TRICKSTERS

Clowns and mischief-makers, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. Our own mischievous subconscious, urging us to change.

ALLIES

Characters who help the hero through the change. Sidekicks, buddies, girlfriends who advise the hero through the transitions of life.

Thanks for reading. If you found this helpful please share it on social media. Find me on Twitter at @MindyHalleck.

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5 comments on “What Are Archetypes?

  1. Paddy
    May 20, 2016

    Thanks for the reminders. Always good to keep them ready in my mind while writing.

    • Mindy
      May 20, 2016

      I revisit the list and descriptions frequently. Thanks for reading. Mindy

  2. Behind the Story
    May 20, 2016

    Mindy, I couldn’t get the video to work.

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