Writing: Welcome To The School of Psychology

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How a character lives within your fiction world, whether it be thinking, policing, or crafting a battle plan, will be an opportunity for you to define the character. For a screenwriter, author, storyteller, certain character archtypes are vital tools of the trade. You can’t tell stories without them.  With that, lets start at the beginning and look at what primary roles have been categorized.

The Earliest Tales:

  • The Protagonist
  • The Antagonist
  • The Chorus

Comedia Dell’arte: 

  • Scapino (the top banana)
  • Harequin (the second banana)
  • Pantalone (the ridiculous old man)
  • Deottore (the pompous, meddling crony)
  • Captain (the inflated ego)
  • Scaramouche (the sad fool)
  • The Servents – gossipy and clever
  • The Lovers

Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth.

  • The Hero
  • The Mentor
  • The Herald
  • The Shadow
  • The Threshold Guardian
  • The Ally
  • The Trickster
  • The Shapeshifter

For our studies we will be focusing on Joseph Campbell’s collective theory. As with almost everything, Campbell’s collection of archetypes are not characters set in stone. There are many more archetypes which appear throughout other stories. Quite often we are introduced to a “Whore with The Heart of Gold.” Or The Fairy Godmother, who doesn’t quite come under the Mentor archetype so subsequently she creates her own. Likewise one archetype isn’t defined to one sole character. There could be two mentors, or we could have a story where the ally turns out to be the shapeshifter. The possibilities are endless and this is why year after year we still continue to read or watch new and initiative.

However, these are only variants and refinements of the archetypes discussed in the following chapters.  The archetypes we will discuss are the most basic patterns, from which all others are shaped to fit the needs of specific stories and genres. Although we will not discuss what that certain archetype does or how he does it. We will look at the physiological function of that archetype; what does that archetype represent for us as the audience, and for the essence of the story.

We’ll publish a tip about each archetype and their physiological values, with reference about each archetype from Christopher Voglers: The Writers Journey. First up: The Hero.


About The Author

Lewis McGregor is an aspiring filmmaker, photographer and online content creator from Wales.