How To Master Story Archetypes [Guest Post]

It’s my pleasure to welcome Sacha Black to my blog! Today’s guest post is brought to you by this fabulous writer.

Guest Post: How To Master Story Archetypes by Sacha Black | Creative writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

The word archetype gets thrown around like candy at Halloween. There’s a ton of villainous archetypes: dark lords, femme fatales, your standard psycho serial killer, and they all play a role. They’re clearly defined, easily distinguishable…

But can anyone actually name me a hero archetype?

I can almost hear the dust balls rolling through the desert… Hero archetypes are much, much harder to define. Sure, you could suggest a maverick cop in a crime series, but wait… that’s a trope, not an archetype. Or what about the chosen one in a fantasy novel? Again, that’s a trope.

Are you stuttering yet?

Let me help.

Hero archetypes don’t exist.

So what is an archetype?

Archetypes are masks worn by characters to serve a particular function at a particular time to move the plot forward.

If you were paying attention, you’d notice I didn’t say ‘worn by the hero’. That’s because an archetype is a plot device; a function of fiction. Archetypes are not specific characters embodying one particular role for all time.

Think of it as character cosplay. If you force a character to act as a mentor to the hero for the entire plot and only as a mentor, you’re squeezing your character into such a tiny box you flatten them, literally and figuratively. You want three-dimensional, rounded characters, not pancakes. Pancakes are only good for breakfast… and maybe for food fights.

But what does this mean for your characters? Well, it means characters, like humans, are transient. Sometimes your mentor will also be your motivator or your ally. Think about all the hats you wear for your BFF. I bet you’ve been a motivator, a shoulder to cry on, a parent when they needed a slap, and a conscience when they did something they shouldn’t.

Top Tip: if you want to add depth to your side characters, make them play an addition role for your hero.

Sacha Black, Author | Guest Post | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comSo here’s a whistle-stop run down of the major functions your characters can play

  1. Friend Function

I’ve already mentioned this function and how we play different roles for our friends. That’s exactly what this role does. Think Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. The friend plays roles including but not limited to: motivating your hero, stopping her from making a mistake (conscience), to being the shoulder she cries on (companionship).

  1. The guide function

The primary purpose of the guide in a story is threefold:

  • Teach the hero, whether that’s new skills, new knowledge or otherwise
  • Protect the hero from the villain’s devilish party tricks
  • Bestow gifts on the hero, from magical death-wielding weapons to the anecdote that helps the hero have an epiphany.

There are a couple of other types of mentors such as the negative guide.  Who, instead of encouraging the hero down the right path to heroism, manipulates the hero and leads them into the descent of darkness. For example, Littlefinger (Lord Petyr Baelish) in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, John Milton in The Devil’s Advocate, Alonzo in Training Day and Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

  1. The obstacle function

The primary job of the obstacle archetype is to make sure the hero is worthy to move on to the next part of the story. You might think only villains can be obstacles. But not so. Even a friend of the heroes could be an obstacle. In fact, if the obstacle is a friend, it’s even more of a test of the hero’s will power – it’s much harder to go against a friend’s wishes to do ‘the right thing’

  1. Hermes function

Yes, for those of you who like mythology, this is a nod to the Greek emissary and messenger god. Hermes characters have vital information that they bring to the hero. Usually the message leads to a change or plot development, the most significant of which is usually the ‘call to action’ for the hero in the first act of your story. The messages are usually, good, bad or a prophecy style message.

  1. Sly fox function

Aside from a villain, the sly fox is one of my favorite archetypes because they’re so interesting to write. Their purpose is to feed doubt into the plot and, specifically, into the hero’s psyche. They come in two forms. A positive sly fox, like a lover in a romance story that feeds doubt into the heroine’s mind over his true feelings. Or a negative sly fox, who feeds doubt into the hero because, well, he’s an evil S.O.B. Think Scar from the Lion King or Dr. Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones and Prince Hans from the Disney movie Frozen.

  1. The joker function

The joker is the character that brings mischief, play and fun to the story. Symbolically, it can represent the need for change within the story. They will usually sprinkle your plot with banter and slap the arrogant characters into shape. For example, Dobby the house elf from Harry Potter.

  1. Villain function

Last but by no means least, is, in my opinion, the most important archetype of them all. The villain. If your villain is weak, so is your story. Story is about change, whether it’s your hero’s character arc, or the world around your hero. Something will change. And those changes are created from the conflict in your story.

What’s the source of conflict?

That, dear reader, would be your villain. Give your villain as much love as your hero. Your story will thank you for it.

Sacha Black, Author | Guest Post | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

That was a super quick run through of the types of archetypes your hero might need during your story.

If you’d like more in depth information, there’s an entire chapter all about the function of archetypes in my new book: 10 Steps To Hero: How To Craft A Kickass Protagonist.

A bit more about the book:

From cardboard cut-out to superhero in 10 steps.

Are you fed up of one-dimensional heroes? Frustrated with creating clones? Does your protagonist fail to capture your reader’s heart?

In 10 Steps To Hero, you’ll discover: 

+ How to develop a killer character arc

+ A step-by-step guide to creating your hero from initial concept to final page

+ Why the web of story connectivity is essential to crafting a hero that will hook readers

+ The four major pitfalls to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs

Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create your perfect protagonist. Whether you’re writing your first story or you’re a professional writer, this book will help supercharge your hero and give them that extra edge.

These lessons will help you master your charming knights, navigate your way to the perfect balance of flaws and traits, as well as strengthen your hero to give your story the conflict and punch it needs.

First, there were villains, now there are heroes. If you like dark humor, learning through examples, and want to create the best hero you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting heroes.

Read 10 Steps To Hero today and start creating kick-ass heroes.

About Sacha Black

Sacha Black, Author | Guest Post | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comSacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.

Let Sacha know what you thought of her post in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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How To Create Your Own Fantasy Language [Guest Post]

It’s my pleasure to welcome Carin Marais to my blog!

Guest Post: How To Create Your Own Fantasy Language by Carin Marais | Blogging | Creative Writing | Fantasy | Fantasy Writing | RachelPoli.com

You’ve probably heard of Sindarin and Quenya even if you don’t know a word of either language. These two constructed languages which J.R.R. Tolkien created have, for many, become the benchmarks of languages used in fantasy and for science fiction, there is Klingon from the Star Trek universe.

Writing in a secondary world means creating not only peoples and cultures but also the world’s languages – or at least parts of the languages. The problem with creating these is where to actually start.

This is also the question I came to stand before when starting to write fantasy, and I hope some of these tips and resources will come in handy when you start to create your own language(s).

Take your time

You might not want to tinker with a language more than is absolutely necessary for the story or novel you are writing. Perhaps you only need a greeting, a blessing or a curse. However, if you’re planning on writing a series, you will need to have a much better grasp of the language you’ve created and build on the vocabulary as well. This takes time – you cannot build a whole language in a day.

Get some help, aka, resources are your friends

I came across some very helpful books (which also don’t cost the world, as most of the linguistics textbooks are quite if not extremely expensive to buy…) in my search for language building resources – The Conlanger Lexipedia and The Language Construction Kit, both by Mark Rosenfelder.

Quite a small crash course in linguistics, these volumes show you how languages of differing complexities can be created.

Bilingual dictionaries – especially, I find, of dead languages – are very good to have at your side when you are in need of vocabulary inspiration.

University departments often have available niche dictionaries that can either be searched or downloaded. Then there are also sites like Wulfila.be that goes into the minutia of the Gothic fragments still available to us.

Archive.org is also a fascinating site on which to find these kinds of dictionaries and they also often go for a steal in the Kindle store, just saying.

Listen to languages

Honestly, though. Listen to other languages being spoken even if you don’t understand them. (She says, living in a country with 11 official languages…)

If you’re living somewhere where mostly one language is spoken, go onto YouTube and listen to videos in other languages to get the feel of their sound, their rhythm, etc. You can then use some of these characteristics in your own language(s).

There may even be a language you love the sound of. Then all you do is incorporate those sounds into your language if you don’t want to or can’t use the actual language.

Start with what you need right now

Although you can start building your language by making lists and lists (and lists) of words, it’s important to keep in mind the type of words you’re actually going to use. For instance, if you’re writing a fantasy epic set somewhere in 400 BC, you probably won’t need a word for “spaceship” or “laptop”.

How I go about building languages

The way in which I build my languages is by first seeing what I will need to write or name in those languages. For instance, while building a chant for The Ruon Chronicles, I first wrote it in English and then translated it:

English: Show yourself, servant of the deepest Darkness. One who has turned from the path to follow the Betrayer, show yourself.

 

Fantasy language: Khalla sah s’elaras verdun nakhan han sah.

Agr elstanbrahta se tellaria na Lewjan nakhan han sah.

 

In this case, the word that actually needed the most work was “deepest”.

The word for deep/deepest was constructed ‘backwards’, working from the word for “valley” (elir), which was already in place. I decided that the word for deep would, therefore, be “elara”, which would mean that “elaras” would mean deepest.

Have fun

Most of all, remember that you’re supposed to have fun while creating the language. Choose sounds you like (cellar door, anyone), make the grammar as easy or difficult as you want, and let your imagination run wild. It’s your world, so you get to choose!

Resources:

Here are some resources that I use (or plan to use in the future…)

Websites:

Archive.org (Basically anything your heart desires)

Wulfila (Gothic)

Grammar, etc. of Afrikaans (I’m biased as it’s my mother tongue…), Dutch, and Frisian (written in English)

Septentrionalia

The University of Texas at Austin: Linguistics Research Centre

Books:

A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins

Advanced Language Construction by Mark Rosenfelder

Linguistics: A Very Short Introduction by P.H. Matthews

The Conlanger’s Lexipedia by Mark Rosenfelder

The Language Construction Kit by Mark Rosenfelder

About Carin Marais

Carin Marais | Author | How To Create Your Own Fantasy Language | Guest Post | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comCarin Marais is a South African fantasy author whose fiction and articles have appeared in Every Day Fiction, Jozi Flash (2016, 2017), Dim Mirrors (2016), Speculative Grammarian, Inkspraak and, most recently, Vrouekeur. She is also a contributor to The Mighty.

Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Patreon | Instagram

What are your thoughts on creating your own fantasy language? Let Carin know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around. Also, if you’d like to be a guest on my blog, check out my Guest Posting Guidelines!

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March 2017 Wrap Up

wrap-up-march-2017

Reading

I only read one book this month and got halfway through another. I didn’t read as much as I had hoped, but at least I read something. Check out my Reading List to see what I read. Not all the reviews are up yet, but you can check that page periodically as I update it.

Writing

Did I get most of the writing done that I said I would in my Goals post? Nope.

I did outline my novel for Camp NaNo, which is good because that was the only project with a “deadline.” I realized I needed to figure out a timeline to work on my projects, so I figured that out at least. The real writing begins in April!

Blogging

I didn’t meet my goals for reading or writing, but I did finish my March posts for both this blog and Double Jump in a timely manner. I got a head start on April’s posts because I hope to give most of my attention to Camp NaNoWriMo.

In addition to all that, I was a guest on Ari’s blog, The Eternal Scribbler. Feel free to check out the post!

Overall

March wasn’t as productive as I had hoped it would be. Then again, this could just be the calm before the storm. Camp NaNo begins tomorrow, April 1, and I plan to really buckle down on all my writing projects, among other things.

If you would like to know what those “other things” are and a more detailed version of what I’ve accomplished this month and what I plan to get done next month, consider signing up for my Newsletter. It’s quick, easy, and free! If you’re not quite sure you want to subscribe, check out my Newsletter Page for more information.

Posts To Remember:

1. 4 Easy Outlining Methods: Find What Works Best For You
2. March/April 2017 Writing Contests
3. 3 More Outlining Methods The Help Your Novel Along
4. Guest: Literacy’s Role In African American Education
5. Guest: Rhythm
6. Interview: Meet Jessica Dall, Author
7. Interview: Meet Jen Benjamin, Author

How did the month of March treat you? Did you accomplish your goals? Let me know in the comments below!

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