Apr 1, 2012

A to Z - Archetypes

Happy A to Z Challenge Day!  I'm so excited to be taking part in this blogfest.  It has already been rewarding and we are just getting started!

I have decided to focus everything with this challenge with all things writing (shock!).  Today, archetypes.

There are tons of books and sites out there that really get into archetypes, detailing the history and how they were discovered.  For today, I just want to cover the really basic elements of archetypes (I love them and could write half my posts about different archetypes but too many of them start with the same stinkin' letter!).  Archetypes are the things that show up in literature that have universal qualities, crossing cultures and times and genres.

The first and best known is the hero.  This hero goes on a journey, usually reluctantly, hoping to achieve one goal but somewhere along the way the hero discovers that what they really want isn't what started them out on their journey.  Think Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, most of the comic book superheroes, etc.  With each of them their goal changes in the process.

The next archetype I'm highlighting is a setting archetype - that of the forest.   When a person (usually the hero) goes into a forest and by the time they come back out, they have learned something that has completely changed them.  Often, this is where the hero decides what his/her goal really is.  Luke Skywalker's forest scene with Yoda completely alters him.  Harry Potter sees who is killing the unicorns - completely changed.  Even go fairy tales - Goldilocks, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White -  or classics - The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies - if you think about their forest scenes, it's amazing who the character is on the flip side.  

The best part of the forest is that it doesn't have to be an actual forest.  It is often, but this is any setting where there is an air of mystery - something strange - and that teaches the hero something while in there.

How can you use archetypes in your stories?  Who is your favorite hero archetype?  Can you think of a setting from a book or movie that just made the transformation of the character for you?


37 comments :

Stacy S. Jensen said...

So glad the A to Z challenge is here. I have on in fiction and two in a memoir. I love the example of the forest. I look forward to your posts.

Angeline Trevena said...

Great post, and that's so true about forests. Good luck with the rest of the month.

M.J. Fifield said...

What an interesting A topic. It's very true what you say about the forests. I've never really thought about them that way.

M.J. Fifield
My Pet Blog

Journaling Woman said...

Being a country girl, I must agree about lessons learned in the forests.

Awesome post!

Teresa

Melissa Bradley said...

Cool theme! I've always loved the hero's journey. One of my faves is the transformation of the Fellowship of the Nine in the forests of Middle Earth.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A great word for the start of the challenge. I look forward to the rest of the challenge .

Yvonne.

sojourney said...

Great Post! I am an amateur writer and try to consider archetypes as I set out to write. Bilbo Baggins is the archetypical reluctant hero for me. He begins to come into his own during the well-known riddle fight with Gollum ... but his pivotal role in engineering the escape from the Elf-Lord's imprisonment always seemed to be more of the key to his transformation from mild-mannered Hobbit to sneaky burglar and adventurer extraordinaire.

I stumbled on your blog because I am randomly linking to 3-5 A to Z blogs each day from mine. I'm glad I randomly found yours. Enjoy the month!

Brian C

Tonja said...

I love studying archetypes in literature, especially fairy tales and myths...and sci fi. Great post.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hello! Enjoyed your A post for the A to Z Challenge.

Susanne
PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER

Simon Kewin said...

Fascinating stuff. I'm going to enjoy reading the rest of these! Hard to beat the flawed hero in my view.

McKenzie McCann said...

Well, the boy meets girl, good vs. evil, and a hero's journey plot archetypes never get old.

Kelley said...

I use the forest (or journey) as one of my archetypes. Totally looking forward to your A to Z posts!

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

I have a book that breaks down archetypes of heroines and heroes and discusses their compatibility. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for the bad boy!

Happy A-Zing!

My A-Z!

S. L. Hennessy said...

Awesome post! I've always loved the hero archetype. It makes for some AMAZING stories. Great blog and happy A-Z challenge!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Clever post for "A!" Interesting point about forests! Julie

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I never thought about the forest thing. Very cool.

Andrew Leon said...

Have you read Joseph Campbell?

Theresa Milstein said...

Harry Potter is my favorite. I also liked Katniss in the first Hunger Games book.

I'm going to enjoy your posts for this A to Z Challenge.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

In an acknowledgement, I offered my appreciated to a friend for serving as the archetype of a feisty and demanding character in my novel.
http://gail-baugniet.blogspot.com Theme: A World of Crime

Martha said...

Awesome A today. Enjoy the challenge :)

Sarah Pearson said...

Good point about the forest. I hadn't looked at it like that before.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You just described my first book...
No forest though. It was set in space.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Good post, there's a great chart floating around somewhere that lists the archetypes personality traits and motivations, it's a great way to work out your own characters.
Wagging Tales

Rusty Webb said...

Great topic for today. I didn't really know the forest playing such a role however, very interesting.

Danielle B. said...

Mine would have to be forest or sea. Great start for atoz-ing!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Oh, yeah! I have Mother Nature totally playing the archetype in my adventure romance. Over and over again. lol

Shannon Lawrence said...

Hm, I think one could say that the ocean acted as the forest in The Odyssey. And we've got our hero. Seems like it was one of the original archetypes. I think the archetype acts as something familiar. The reader/viewer knows that they know a bit of what's going to happen, which is a comfort.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Pk Hrezo said...

There's just something so mystical and transforming about a forest. Think Robin Hood for instance. Sherwood Forest was THE setting.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Nice! I love the forest archetype! I'm a huge fan of the hero, too. Great A topic!

J.L. Campbell said...

Good place to start on your 26-day writing journey. I tend to make my heroes out of the ordinary in that they're not usually all good. The story journey helps turn them into better people.

Leigh Covington said...

Oooh! Fun start to the challenge. Can I go with the *obvious* Harry Potter? For real. I love his journeys and love seeing how much he grows through each book. :)

nutschell said...

How cool! I'm doing archetypes on some days for my A-Z as well. looking forward to more of your posts.

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

moondustwriter said...

Very nice A
Hmm now I'm thinking about my hero in one of my blogs...

Happy A to Z

D.G. Hudson said...

Hi, new follower, nice to meet you.

Dropping by via the A-Z Blog Challenge.

I don't usually give much thought to archetype. I do need an image to form a character.

Amy said...

Great post and I love your theme! :)

mooderino said...

Nice idea for a theme. Trying to make the archetypes strong without turning into stereotype isn't easy.


mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino
The Funnily Enough

Joshua said...

I think I'm more of a "has a special ability" kind of hero fan. Small like mind reading to big like teleportation and time travel.