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April 9th, 2005, 08:33 PM
Does following a totally conscious use of archetypes take away from the author their ability to inspire through such characters?

In other words, could making the process of creating characters an equation suck out the life from the characters?

Perhaps great authors know mostly by instinct. And this is the best way... OR one might use the formula and work with it as a foundation. The only question is which method is really most effective.

Your thoughts?

April 9th, 2005, 08:47 PM
I suppose it depends if you want your work to be considered truly original or if you want it to be enjoyed by a large audience. Many archetypes in literature have been around for thousands of years because they appeal to all humans on a basic level. So there's certainly no harm in conciously using them--you won't be the first or the last.

Archetypes worked very well for George Lucas. He was good friends with Joseph Campbell (writer of The Hero With A Thousand Faces, which is about the hero archetype across world cultures) around the time he was writing the story for Star Wars. And after talking about his story with Campbell, he decided to rewrite it completely, this time deliberately infusing it with as many archetypes as possible. I don't suppose I need to tell you how successful his movies are. The fact is, archetypes are well-liked and well-understood by most people.

Like I said, use archetypes in your story if you want it to appeal to a lot of people. Don't use them if you want to appeal to critics looking for originality.

Of course, just because you use an archetype like "the hero of unknown origins," "the evil seductress" or "the wise old man" doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't give it your own twist.

I might post more in this thread later. A couple years ago I wrote a university paper on this exact subject so I could potentially have a lot to say about it. :)

April 9th, 2005, 09:15 PM
Interesting. Campbell said Lucas was his best student.

About the last page of a biography I just finished, the author remarks Tolkien wasn't likely deliberately using archetypes. A speculation worth questioning. This lead the author to saying being deliberate doesn't inspire.

Thus, knowing now that Lucas made it so deliberate... my question is answered.

(There's a real Jedi religion that has many thousands of members.)

April 9th, 2005, 11:25 PM
There's a real Jedi religion that has many thousands of members.
As far as I am aware, there is a - now worldwide - practice of census dissenters entering "Jedi" as their religion on census forms, which began with the 2001 Australian census. This practice was popularized by the television series Going Home, which aired at the time, and caused some chagrin at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. There is no evidence that the people who claim "Jedi" as their religion actually have any consistent beliefs.

I would be interested in knowing about any real Jedi religion with any followers. How can a deliberately created fiction be a "real religion"? (L. Ron turns in his grave.)

April 10th, 2005, 12:15 AM
Belief is a funny thing.

There's been created religions before. Some thrive. Some don't.

April 10th, 2005, 12:55 AM
Belief is a funny thing.

There's been created religions before. Some thrive. Some don't.
Righto! The Church of Karen starts right here, right now! Let's see, first order of business, we'll need a holy book... What do youse think, the Book of Karen, the Book of Croodle, or Karenetics: the modern science of mental health?

Anyone got any tips for holy book writing? Apart from pack the narrative sections with larger-than-life stereotypical/archetypal characters? What is required to make a book into a "holy book" anyway?

April 10th, 2005, 02:38 AM
Croodle sounds best but watch out for copyright restrictions.

April 10th, 2005, 03:49 PM
Association with a powerful myth is appealing. It vitalizes and adds romance to it.

April 10th, 2005, 04:07 PM
Fascinating though this is please try and keep vaguely on topic.


April 10th, 2005, 06:45 PM
Fascinating though this is please try and keep vaguely on topic.


What was the topic again?

Oh, yeah,

The reason archetypical characters work is the reason they are archetypical in the first place. Characters with a certain amount of familiarity add to the positive psyche-scape of a story. I sometimes try to cast against type, but that is done so much that sometime casting according to type is more unique. If we must have clones, could we not have original clones?

But it's not just good characters that make good stories. It all in what you do with those resources.