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ARCHETYPES, NOT STEREOTYPES: Nailing down Our Main Characters and Making them Come Alive for the Reader

I attended Jennifer Griffith’s class it was one of my favorites. Jennifer is an author and she says she writes, “cotton candy for the soul.”


This class helps you improve your characters in writing and makes them more believable. It’s fun to take real people and see where they fit in the archetypes.

I’ll try it.

I would say Jennifer Griffith is a Spunky Kid. Russ Wallace, author of Zenobia – Birth of a Legend is a Chief & a Professor and so is my husband Jason Wallace. Zenobia is a Crusader. Read below and you’ll understand in a minute what all this means. Have Fun!


Nailing down Our Main Characters and Making them Come Alive for the Reader


“Creating believable characters that connect with the audience is probably one of the most difficult aspects of writing an author faces. ARCHETYPES operate beneath the surface of the most original characters to forge a link with the audience based on shared human experience. The archetype tells the reader what the heroine’s or hero’s instincts are, what he feels, what drives him, and how he reaches his goals. The writer conveys these to the audience skillfully. Then the reader settles in to enjoy the old story told anew.” —Cowden, LaFever, Viders


MC (Main Character) + circumstances = Plot


Know your MC. What is their story?


With many Personality types you want to pin point what your MC is and make them believable.


You need good Villains as much as you need Heroes and Heroines.


Keep your MC true to their type.


Core character should have one of these archetypes.


Multi- layer characters: As you go down the list you will find many characters could fit in more than one archetype. For writing purposes your character shouldn’t have more than two archetypes.


Characters should be evolving. Start out one way and the circumstances change them.

Good books of reference are:


“45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters” by Victoria Lynn


“Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master

Archetypes” by Tami D. Cowden,Caro

LaFever,and Sue Viders.

Below are some samples of heroes and







The CHIEF—a dynamic leader, he has time for nothing but work 



The BAD BOY—dangerous to know, he walks on The wild side



The BEST FRIEND—sweet and safe, he never lets anyone down




The CHARMER—a smooth talker, he creates fantasies



The LOST SOUL—a tormented being, he lives in solitude


The PROFESSOR—coolly analytically, he knows every answer



The SWASHBUCKLER—Mr. Excitement, he’s an adventurer


The WARRIOR—a noble champion, he acts with honor





The BOSS—a real go-getter, she climbs the ladder of success




The SEDUCTRESS—an enchantress, she charms to get her way


The SPUNKY KID—gutsy and true, she is loyal to the end


The FREE SPIRIT—an eternal optimist, she dances to unheard tunes



The LIBRARIAN—controlled and clever, she holds back

The WAIF—a distressed damsel, she bends but does not break




The NURTURER—serene and capable, she nourishes the spirit





The CRUSADER—a dedicated fighter, she meets commitments


Zenobia is a Warrior and a Crusader. I know warrior is a man trait but since she spent nine years of her life as a boy I think she kept some of those traits. 



Share from a favorite book, movie, or real person and tell me what archetype they are. It’s fun.




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