Secrets of Transformation, Part II
Fairy tales and folklore contain symbols from our inner psychology and universal wisdom. From the Cherokee stories of the Upper World and Middle World to the English and Welsh stories of dragons, kings and princesses, they are an important part of literature that present a unique challenge to writers.
Sexual connotations are hinted at without openly stating the obvious. (Please read Secrets of Transformation, Part I for more insight.) The first Grimm’s Fairy Tales were written for adults, not children.) Character archetypes cannot be avoided. In some ways, it is impossible to create a story without using them yet it is so easy to fall into the trap of relying on these archetypes, even without realizing it. We all know the basic character types: the hero, the damsel in distress, the wicked woman, the evil villain. But what exactly are these archetypes and how are they used? What is the difference between an archetype and a stereotype? Let’s find out how we can achieve balance in a story, transform stereotypical characters into timeless archetypes, and make the story sizzle.
What is an archetype?
The terms archetype and stereotype are used interchangeably, but the two are not exclusive. (giggle) A stereotype is an oversimplified attitude toward the way a person or group behaves in society. This term is used to justify beliefs that are not real but are cultural attitudes. An archetype is a prototype or example. While stereotypes are usually based on misinformation and prejudice, an archetype is a symbol or a theme, element or motif. The best thing a writer can do is educate themselves on the the types of archetypes and then use them for their own purposes.
The star, the protagonist and the character we would like to be. (Or think of the hero as the person we would like to see climb the wall to our ivory tower. Maybe he or she is someone who looks like this.)
2. The Villain
3. The Sidekick
The sidekick is the best friend or a close companion of the hero.
4. The Princess
The princess is a common archetype and is often put in the role of the hero’s romantic interest. There are stories where the hero has rescued a damsel, only to discover she is not in as much distress as one would believe. (#SouthernBelle) Often, the female who is the object of the hero’s affection is just as capable of defending herself as the hero and fights alongside him.
5. The Adviser
The older person the hero turns to for advice; the mentor.
6. The Femme Fatale
While the villain is the opposite of the hero, the femme fatale is usually cast opposite of the princess. While the princess is virtuous and worthy, the femme fatale is sexy and worldly.
7. The Rascal
They are the unpredictable characters we hate to love, the characters we embrace and admire despite their many flaws. Generally, they are a lovable rogue. I often find myself more interested in the rascal or rogue than the hero, but that’s just me.
Anyway, I digress…
8. The Fairy Godmother
A character in folk and fairy tales, the fairy godmother is associated with the supernatural or otherworldly, providing the hero with amulets, magic spells, wisdom and devices that develop the journey. They make the magic happen.
9. The Joker
From the guy or girl who is always cracking jokes or the dumb blonde, many stories have a character who plays the fool. This jester-like character is often used for purposes of comedy but often this is the “wise fool” of the story.
10. The Monster
A symbol of the fear the hero must overcome.
The beauty of fairy tales lies in the fact that we know that somehow, someway the story and characters will transform to reveal that good overcomes evil…the hero and princess, (or the heroine and prince) will fall in love and actually live happily ever after.
More soon on transformation and characters.
Special thanks to the Writers Spot.
Look for my newest addition to The Dreams, based on fairy tales, folklore and woven with a dash of Reconstruction Era Southern Victoriana, now available for pre-order.Snag a copy now for only 99c/99p!
Past, Darkly – The Dreams, Story 2