Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review of 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Based on the archetypes found in ancient mythology (mostly Grecian), Schmidt has created forty-five models “for creating original characters.” Included are fifteen feminine and fifteen masculine archetypes, as well as fifteen secondary character models. The personalities range from Artemis the warrior and Hera the mother to Hades the hermit and Zeus the ruler.


Each archetype (with the exclusion of the supporting characters which are grouped into three chapters) is described and analyzed in an easily scanned chapter. Fears, dreams, goals, and motivations are listed, along with a glimpse into the “Hyde side” of each character’s personality. Each entry concludes with a list of movies, television shows, literary works, and historical instances in which the archetype may be recognized.


Although interesting, I felt it would be difficult for an author to allow the archetypes to form the basis of characters when writing. The book might be better used as a reference point to ensure uniformity in an already existing character’s personality.


However, if for nothing else, 45 Master Characters is worth perusing just for the sake of the last two chapters which provide detailed outlines of both the feminine and masculine journeys.
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12 comments:

  1. Cool, thanks! Added to my Wish List. (I've transitioned over to ebooks almost entirely except for writing HOWTO books - I love marking them up and being able to pull them off the shelf to bone up on this-or-that.)

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  2. Same here. Writing books are about the only ones I submit to my highlighter.

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  3. The book sounds like an interesting study of character traits. Might be worth looking at. Thanks, Katie!

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  4. It's not a must-have, by any means, but it does offer a few interesting tidbits.

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  5. Ouh! My library owns this book, I am on the hold list. :) Perhaps it will be useful.

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  6. It's worth a glance through. If nothing else, it's fun to try to figure out which archetype your characters fit.

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  7. I bought and read it. It's worth a spot on your reference shelf (you can find used copies on Amazon).

    I wouldn't use any of the archetypes as-is; most aren't real to me.

    What I did like was that each archetype had its built-in character conflicts. Looking over a couple archetypes who are similar to what you imagine your character to be will give you some interesting ideas on what flaws could be "available."

    Re the male/female journey, they might not be so applicable in modern times as they were not too long ago (just years, not necessarily decades). If you're doing a period-piece, though, they could be interesting.

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  8. I also liked that it highlighted various well-known characters from literature and cinema to exemplify the archetypes. Made them more accessible.

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  9. I agree, I think it would be awkward to shape my story to fit the character types. I'll see if the local library has it.

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  10. It's more of an "interesting-in-retrospect" thing. I would never try to create a character based on the archetypes.

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  11. So many writing books, so little time!

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