1. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    How to avoid making archetypes?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Youniquee, Nov 25, 2010.

    One of my main characters is an archetype and of course it's not original at all :l How can I develop him more so he's original?
    And how do you avoid this?
    Thanks :)
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I often start out with a stereotype and then allow the character to grow organically using the situations I put him in - I fully intend them to be a bit flat and stereotype first draft until I get to know them and my characters get to know them.

    My gay MC - is elegant, he loves his clothes - he will pay attention to his accessories and the way he hangs his curtains, and snot is like his kryptonite. However he is a fully rounded character he can also slit a mans throat, swears, laughs, jokes - great at archery etc so the stereotype fades into the background becoming part of his personality.
     
  3. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just did about characters, archetypes included, in part of my 'Writing for Theatre' seminar today. We did an exercise where you wrote the stereotypical traits say hero (male, blonde hair, handsome, compassionate etc.) and then you wrote the complete opposite of it. From there you could just pick random traits which could leave you with say a female, dark hair, ugly, cruel hero. I'd suggest giving this a go, you'd certainly get an original character mixing the stereotypical and opposite of it.
     
  4. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I say just write the character the way you'd enjoy experiencing him as a reader. What would interest you if he were somebody else's character? Make the characters appealing to you and I find that they'll become genuinely original.
     
  5. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    You don't want to avoid archetypes; you want to use them. It's stereotypes and clichés you want to avoid. You're probably already using two of them without knowing it. They are called the Hero and the Villain.
     
  6. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Accept the archtype - stroke the stock!

    I don't mean that one should fall into cliche, but (especially in short fiction) I see no reason not to use stereotype and expectation to your advantage.

    -Frank
     
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  7. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Archetypes are pretty easy to write around. Just think of the archetype and switch everything up. Though archetypes aren't always bad, though they may be boring. Side character archetypes are used in the most popular of fiction novels, so it won't necessarily be a bad thing if you used it for a side character. In fact, quite a few books use main characters as an archetype, only the reader is able to delve into their minds and understand them a little more. Archetypes aren't evil, but they get boring fast.

    So what you'd want to do is think of this archetype your MC resembles so much and try and switch everything up. If that approach doesn't appeal to you, then think of the psychological approach. If the character resembles the archetype by appearance, it's always good to try and make the MC's beliefs, opinions, thought process, etc. different from what is expected of him. Then maybe it won't be as drab?
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Consider the rules, but then keep them in mind so that you can break and bend them, but not be a slave to them. You can also combine stereotypes to have more than one aspect for a given character. Also, take stereotypes that are usually seen in one character and apply them to another : for example, the hippie kid-loving principal and the bureaucratic uptight teacher instead of the other way around. Or the punctual/polished/"perfect" secretary working for the airheady, promiscuous CEO instead of the other way around.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is a subtle difference between a stereotype and an archetype. A stereotype is an unconscious act of writing a character who lack individual distinction. An archetype, on the other hand, is a character designed to embody and represent an ideal.

    Stereotypes are what you want to avoid, Archetypes definitely have a place in writing. Superman, James Bond, Arthur Dent, and Willy Loman are archetypes, and all the more effective for it.
     

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