Current Project: Starting something new
Status: Good so far...
I've given up on my WIP. Well, I suppose I shouldn't phrase it like that. I've decided that completely reworking the story for a third time isn't worth MY time. I have finally figured out what I've been doing wrong the past few years. I over-plot and don't spend enough time developing my characters before I start writing. I let the plot lead the story, rather than the character interaction.
Not this time, baby!
I have decided to start on an idea I've been kicking around for a while. I've got the basic conflict and plot down, but that's it. All I've been thinking about is my characters. Who are they? Why are they in conflict with each other? How do they compliment each other? What about them becomes vital to the other's happiness by the end of the story? I started with trying to develop a flaw for each of them. Feeling mush brain after working a lot yesterday, I turned to the internet to try and track down some lists of character flaws. I know I've seen them before - they are helpful for basic brainstorming. But I couldn't find one to save my life. And, by the way, all of a sudden there is a million Web sites out there for brainstorming characters for online and role playing games.
Then I started thinking about archetypes. I love archetypes. Huge fan. They work so well in stories and each archetype can be individualized easily enough that it doesn't feel like the same person over and over. If you think about it, everyone has different reasons for become the person who falls under a certain archetype.
I wasn't having much luck googling what I wanted to see - examples of archetype compatibility in romance. Then I remembered, I have a ton of writing books on my shelves! DUH! I walked over and found a treasure trove of character books. (I guess I've secretly known for a while that this is a weakness of mine and began collecting help for when I finally realized I needed it!) Then I saw the Holy Grail, my personal favorite archetype book: "The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines: 16 Master Archetypes" by Tami Cowden. I love, love, LOVE this book. Eight major male and female archetypes are broken down into simple terms with examples from major movies. Then, each hero and heroine archetype are paired up and an explanation is given of how they would work together, what they don't like about each other, and how they affect change in the other. The perfect recipe for conflict, black moment and resolution!
I knew right away that my heroine was a nurturer, but I hadn't fully decided on my hero. So I read how the nurturer paired up with each hero archetype and BAM! like a lightening bolt it was clear. He's the chief. The way those two archetypes interact is exactly what I envisioned for my story. The warrior was a close second, but not quite there. We'll save him for another book and another heroine archetype.
This book spurred a flurry of little notes about my hero and heroine that I now have in a character brainstorming document. I'm going to understand them before I do any more thinking on my plot. Dang it!
Do you ever use archetypes in your writing? Any success? Good resources to share with the rest of us?