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12 Character Archetypes And How To Use Them

All About Character Archetypes

I LOVE this introduction to character archetypes from Pamela … Even more so for its bias on female characterisation, something B2W is well known for. Nice one!

Character archetypes are SO important for writers. Most importantly we need to understand the difference between character archetypes and stereotypes. Whilst character archetypes are foundations we build on top of, stereotypes are simplifications. (It’s very common to hear that ‘no’ writer should write stereotypes EVAH, though it’s not always as simple as this. CLICK HERE for more information).

Over to Pamela after the jump and a variety of linkage on the thorny subject of just what makes a ‘GREAT’ character …. Ready?? Then let’s go!


The 12 Character Archetypes

Having trouble keeping your dialogue character-driven?

Try an Archetype. An Archetype isn’t a cliché stereotype, it’s a framework.

1) The Explorer

The Explorer is the seeker, the wanderer. They are naturally inquisitive, fearless, and reject conformity. Explorers are characterized by a sense of freedom and are often pioneers on a journey. Sandra Bullock was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her work in Gravity. Alice, of Alice in Wonderland is an Explorer.

2) The Outlaw

The Outlaw is the rebel, always ready to break the rules. They can be lawful or lawless. They are liberators and easily reject the status quo. Elle Woods, of Legally Blonde, is a refreshing Outlaw.

3) The Jester

Jesters are innovative, fun, playful and outspoken. They never wear a frown unless it’s painted on. Men have dominated every Archetype in film, including the Jester, but women are making headway, as they should, because Jesters level the playing field. They live in the moment, illuminating the powerful and the powerless. Melissa McCarthy in Spy, and Amy Schumer in Trainwreck, are current examples of Jester Archetypes.

sept-2013-the-crone4) The Sage

The Sage seeks the truth. They crave knowledge and can be more comfortable with books than people. Sages want to understand and long for paradise. E=MC2. There haven’t been too many films with female Sages. Where is Baba Yaga when you need her?

6d7454cea6644379adc7e529c5790a28078a28235) The Ruler

The Ruler is the leader of the pack, bringing experience and status to the table. They provide structure and need to be in control. Don’t mess with the boss. Elsa, from Walt Disney’s Frozen, is a Ruler.

6) The Innocent

The Innocent is a romantic dreamer, wholesome and full of virtue. They keep the faith and stay the course. Innocent’s can be a little ho-hum, unless they are Cinderella. Maybe that’s why Miley Cyrus puts so much effort into proving, ‘I’m not so innocent, any more’.


We-Can-Do-It-Rosie-the-Riveter-Wallpaper-27) The Hero

The hero faces challenges and enemies, and is usually on a quest with a super weapon, cape, or Porsche 911. Heroes want to leave a mark. As Rosie the Riveter declared, “Yes, we can do it”.

OsPi4zOB8)  The Creator

Creators are inspired and artistic, with vision and imagination. They think outside the box and are innovative. Oscar Isaac, in Ex Machina, nominated for Best Original Screenplay, displayed the ups and downs of being a Creator.


9) The Magician

The Magician lives by infinite possibility, turning negative to positive. Why struggle when you can flow? They are transformers and prove there is a reality outside of our own minds. Magicians don’t just perform magic tricks, and teach future kings how to remove swords from stones. They also write screenplays. Magician is a good Archetype for a female lead, as far as I can tell, it’s never been done …Unless we count Manic Pixie Dream Girls?


10) The Lover

The Lover is socially motivated and enjoys intimate bliss, with passionate dedication, appreciation, gratitude and mutually benefitting arrangements for all! Romeo and Juliet are Lovers.

11) The Caregiver

Caregivers provide succur for the world. I’m here to serve and lend a hand. Mary Poppins is a Caregiver, as is Liam Neeson in Schindler’s List.

12) The Everyman

The Everyman/Everywoman takes pride in their work. They are grounded and want to fit in. They live by an all for one, and one for all, philosophy. Sometimes they are orphans, or can have addictive shadow traits, like drug or alcohol addiction. Edie Falco, in Nurse Jackie, was an Everywoman.


Archetypes are a concept that springs from Jungian psychology, of patterns recognized deep in our subconscious. Archetypes embody essences that are recognized globally. They are inherent, natural BRANDS!

It’s important to note: character achetypes do NOT stem from low self-esteem, post-traumatic Stress, abuse, or any of the infinite scars acquired through living.

However, it’s true that character archetypes DO accept all mixtures of toxic ingredients. Make sure you have fun and feel free to concoct a self-centered Lover, a narcissistic Explorer, or a Creative serial killer! So … what are you waiting for?

Good luck!

BIO: Pamela Perry is a produced screenwriter, a LIFE magazine award-winning photographer, currently adapting the epic novel by famed Indian author VS Rao – the Navagraha Purana, into a script. Novel available in English on Amazon – October, 2016.

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