Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Writing and Well Being (Part 2)

In the previous post I outlined the 7 types of plot devices and in this post I will be outlining 7 main character archetypes. For this I will be using a familiar IP to help establish exactly what each characters role is in a plot, I'll be outling the character archtypes by using Star Wars characters.

The Hero
In Narrative often the protagonist and focus of the story is the hero character, who must go on a journey which involves seperation from a previous comfortable life to develop as a character, in essence grow into a new more developed character. Often the Hero is Self Sacrificing, other traits such as strength and bravery are not always needed. In the Star Wars films the character Luke Skywalker is the Hero, he must travel from his home planet to learn to become a Jedi Knight along the way he faces many trials and tribulations that will test his worth as a hero.

The Sage
More often than not The Sage is a mentor to the hero, often an old man/woman whom contains vast amounts of knowledge and is often presented as mysterious or godlike. The Sage will gift the hero with various items such as knowledge, weapons or magic. Often The Sage will be taken out of the story as a part of the test to the Hero to see if they have truly learned the skills need to proceed. In the Star Wars films the role of The Sage is taken upon by Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi, whom the Hero meets prior to the quest, Obi-Wan teaches Luke of the Jedi teachings and the force, even gifting him with a weapon, the lightsabre. Obi-Wan remains a presence through out all of Luke's journey guiding his hand and offering advice where needed.

The Herald
Often acting as the catalyst to the Hero's reason for starting the journey. The Herald can either be a character, event or a piece of information that inspires the character to set out on their journey. In the Starwars films there are a number of factors that go into the classification of The Herald, but without a doubt it's Princess Leia, it's her message in R2-D2 that inspires Luke to search for Obi-wan whom starts Luke's Quest. There are various factors in the opening of Star Wars that relate to the beginnings of Luke's Quest such as the Droids, the imperial staff that didn't destroy the escape pod, Luke's Uncle buying the droids but, ultimately it's Leia's Message that causes the start of the journey.

The Threshold Guardian
It's the role of the Threshold Guardian to present the hero with their first challenge. Often the Threshold Guardian is a henchman or much less powerful than the final antagonist, sometimes the guardian can be of nuetral alliance with no connection to any other characters and merely exist for the purpose of posing a challenge to the Hero. In Star Wars without a doubt the Threshold is the Galactic Empire, it was stormtroopers who where looking for the droids that murdered Luke's family, giving him the freedom to set out on the quest, the empire also try to prevent Luke and Obi-wan obtaining a pilot to get off Tatooine. Through out the series the Empire constantly test the Hero and his companions making it a sort of re-appearing Threshold Guardian.

The Shapeshifter
This character's role is to present uncertainty in the Hero. Often The Shapeshifter's alliance can change between the Hero's or the Villian's and when alligned with the hero it's the Shapeshifter's role to question the beliefs and teachs of the hero. The Shapeshifter can also be a friend to the Hero or even a love interest, ultimately this character's role is to offer a balance of opinion to the Hero's. In Star Wars this role is filled by Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca, often Solo claims to look out for himself and even at time seem cold to the Luke's plight even noting that the ways of a Jedi are no match for "a good blaster", ultimately Solo becomes a friend and does always come through for the hero.

The Trickster
It's the role of this character to offer comedic relief to the story often to balance out an overly dramatic plot. The trickster's alliance can fall in either camps and can either be a bumbling fool or a cunning mastermind, their schemes can either result in success or failure but aslong as it happens with comedy the role of the trickster has been fufilled. In some stories the the trickster can be removed through a tragic event to denote the end of a film's light hearted nature and the beginning of a darker chapter. In Star Wars the role of the trickster is filled by R2-D2 and his companion C-3PO, often their antics are the present a light hearted nature to the film's darker themes, both characters are protrayed as intelligent with R2 being more cunning and 3PO being more bumbling, in Empire' 3PO's temporary death builds upon the darkening plot.

The Shadow
This is the Antagonist of the plot, often but not always the Shadow is the villian but it can also be a character with disagreeing veiws to the Hero. The Shadow must also be a worth opponent that will challenge the Hero's skills in a conflict that results in one being destroyed or rendered powerless. The Shadow is the negative force of the story but does not recognise themselves as the villian rather sees the narratives hero as the Villian. Undoubtable Darth Vader is the shadow in Star Wars, controlling the threshold guardian and constantly posing challenges to Luke and the other Rebels, although it is revealed that there is a greater evil above Vader, he still remains the main focus of Luke's ultimate challenge which is to bring Vader back to the good side of the force.

When it comes to writing a story often realisation and connections one can make to an other existing character can be off putting as they then feel that their work is not original but do not be discouraged as this purpose of this was to highlight that there are only so many variations so if you're writing and realise that several of your characters or themes are similar to many different sources thats fine as you've not unintentionally copied one story and it's most likely coincidence.

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