Monday, April 1, 2013

Character Function Archetypes

Part of the Story engine, It's vital to figure out your characters as they function in the story early on in development. They may of course change due to the needs of the story but it's very important to always have their functions in mind because they are the forces that shape the story. If a character doesn't have definite function you need to give them on, combine them with another character or get rid of them.

The following archetypes can be individual characters or can be combined in a character but they are all important in a story. 

Also when creating these characters they all need a personal reason and drive that causes them to naturally fulfill these roles.

Story Character functions from "Making a good script great." 
These character types all specifically relate to their story function as it relates to the protagonist and the protagonists overall goal and arc. 
  • Protagonist (main character with a major arc and specific Goal that they will do anything for.)
  • Antagonist (opposes protagonists ultimate goal in the story and will do anything to stop the Protagonist.)
  • Representative of antagonist (constantly present foil or villain that acts for the Antagonist if the antagonist is not present.)
  • Love interest/ buddy (explores the theme with the protagonist)
  • catalyst character (causes change or growth in the protagonist) 
  • Confidant (allows audience to see into protagonists mind)
  • Comic relief (brings entertainment into story and tends to lighten things up, their whole purpose is to make the ride more fun, it is best to combine this with another function)
  • contrasting character (shows who the protagonist is by being the opposite, they can bring out sides of the character we wouldn't normally see)
Theme related characters (can an usually are combined with the ones above):
  • balance character (character who represents the balance of both sides of the theme/dilemma. the center)
  • Voice of "..." Character (this character provides a clear voice that amplifies ideas in the story as they relate to the theme/dilemma)
  • Writers point of view character (character that has the writers perspective on the theme)
  • Audience point of view character (has the perspective that is most relatable by the audience, a character the audience can feel comfortable with.)
*See "how to make a good script great" for more detailed information. 

Writers journey Archetypes as they function in story:

I find these to be useful because they represent functions a character can play or represent and how they effect the story:

The main active player. The protagonist of the story. Through their decisions they drive the story forward. They are the person who we root for and they are the one that learns the greatest lesson. 

Higher self:
The character or ideal that embodies what the hero ultimately needs to become. They can be a goal or can cause the Hero to realize that they want to become like them.

Provides what the Hero needs to grow and meet bigger obstacles. They need to become less available later on in the story. 

support the hero on their journey in different ways. They are all for helping. They are the last to leave the Hero's side.

they motivate the hero in good or bad ways. They force the hero to progress. They are the fire that is lit under the Hero's butt. They usually have the hero's best interests in mind. 

The Villian (though not nessesariky the antagonist)  this character brings out the "evils" that the hero doesn't want to face. They display that which is hidden and despised by the hero. The shadow may be an all around villain or they may be more of just a villain to the protagonist. Example: say the protagonist values freedom and autonomy. The shadow might be a character who enforces order and values being a martyr

They challenge the status quo and break down the Hero in a comical way. They're whole purpose is break down the Hero's exterior and bring out what is inside. They can have the Hero's best interests in mind or can be malicious. 

Threshold guardian: 
they stand in the way of the hero at stages on their journey. They force the hero to grow to move forward. They are the tests that hero must pass to progress. So they force growth. For a hero to beat them they need to learn a lesson. 

The shapeshifter is made up up what the Hero does not understand about humanity. They appear to change because the hero does not fully know them. Their shapeshifting forces the hero to dig deeper and broaden their mind. They cause an increase of awareness. They let the hero know that they don't know everything.

*See "the writers journey" for a detailed description of these characters and their functions.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the Shapeshifter. At first glance I thought it might be almost a really bad guy, but it could also be that character that lets the hero develop a little more than he would have without him.