Musing: Breaking the Archetype Prison.

This guy gave me nightmares when I was a kid.

So I’ve come to realize that there are two major sins in regards to developing a character during development.   The first is falling into line with the typical word for word.   The Second is trying so hard to break the mold that the character simply doesn’t make sense or attracts rolling eyes like spilled syrup attracts fruit flies.

It’s hard to accept but Archetypes exist because accomplished authors do their homework.  They have their characters act as though they were living breathing people.  When people are raised a certain way, they act a certain way.   When they rebel it sourced from a deep rooted sense of longing.   Something in their life wasn’t the way they wanted it to go, so they take hold of their life and make things change!

Something I have learned through this literary journey is that character development isn’t about making a marketable character that breaks the mold (OK maybe a little), but rather making a character that has both believable motivations and history.  This is something I learned the hard way.   As I started to flesh out the story from it’s framework, I realized real people have deep motivations for their actions.  Half the time, they don’t realize what they are themselves until a situation arises that they usually don’t face.   Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t rude because they are just jerks.   Cynicism is bred after years of interaction or lack there of.

Many years ago I was told by someone an aspect of customer service I am not soon to forget.   “You should always be patient with difficult people.   You never know if their mood is driven by a spot of bad luck or if they are coming from the funeral of a loved one.  If you greet them with a smile and even temperance you never know if that small gesture might serve to shift their mood from one extreme to the next. ”

Several years after I heard those words, I found the true worth of them.  Events guide the moods and personalities of individuals.   Dodging archetypes isn’t nearly important as explaining why the character acts the way they do.  Words, actions and ideals all influence people; coupled with an interesting conflict you can make the most ‘typical’ of characters a part of an amazing tale.

This isn’t to say the cast of Dimanagul are typical, but I will say over the course of writing it I realize that there is nothing wrong with  lining up with a trend or two.   If it ain’t broke.   Don’t fix it.

-EJ

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