Archetypal Antagonists for the Queen Arc: Invader and Empty Throne

As the third of the life cycle’s archetypal character arcs, the Queen Arc is that of the mature adult who has completed the youthful arcs of Hero and Maiden and is now challenged to grow into a position of greater responsibility and leadership. This is the tale of someone who has so far proven herself […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Hero Arc: Dragon and Sick King

The well-known Hero Arc offers us the exciting story of a brave youth fighting to discover and earn his own worthiness. It follows on the heels of the Maiden Arc‘s initial individuation from the Authority Figures that dominate one’s youth, and it offers the young adult the opportunity to discover what he is meant to […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Maiden Arc: Authority and Predator

As the first transformational archetype within the “life arcs” cycle, the Maiden Arc is the quintessential “coming-of-age” story. It is the story of teenage angst, the joys and heartbreaks of growing up, and the struggle to individuate into a fully autonomous and mature human being. Like all arcs, the Maiden’s doesn’t just happen. Nor (for […]

Archetypal Antagonists for Each of the Six Archetypal Character Arcs

Antagonists are an interesting consideration for any writer. So often, when we conceive or plot a story, the antagonist may be an afterthought—especially in genre or “plot-driven” fiction in which the antagonist is less likely to be in a relationship with the protagonist and more likely to be a “Big Bad” of some sort. But […]

How the Antagonist Functions in Different Types of Character Arcs

Most of the time when we think about a story’s antagonist, we simply think of the “bad guy.” The antagonist is the character (or force) that opposes the protagonist’s forward progression in pursuit of the main plot goal. This is fundamental plot theory, linked to the old saw about “no conflict, no plot.” The antagonist […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 23: Summary of the Archetypal Character Arcs

This post (as the final one in our series) is intended as an easy reference that lists comparisons of the archetypal Positive-Change Arcs, so you can see them all in one place. Each of the individual posts on the specific archetypes does, of course, go into much more depth and offers much more information. But […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 22: How to Use Archetypal Character Arcs in Your Stories

And so we find ourselves (almost) at the end of a nearly six-month journey through the possibilities of archetypal character arcs. If you’ve stuck with me through what is by far the longest series I have ever shared, then I hope, like me, you are enthralled and excited by the possibilities that archetypes offer for […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 21: The Flat Archetype of the Mentor

And so we come to the final archetype within the life-arc cycle: the well-known and well-loved Mentor. This final Flat archetype, which precedes the final transformation of the Mage Arc, is one of the most significant within human storytelling. Indeed, next to the Hero, the Mentor is perhaps our most well-known of all mythic archetypes. […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 20: The Flat Archetype of the Elder

Within a Positive-Change Arc, an Impact Character is the character (or characters) who represents the thematic Truth and its potential to “impact” and change the protagonist. However, within a Flat Arc, the protagonist is the Impact Character. As we delve deeper into the Flat archetypes of the life cycle’s Third Act, we begin to see […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 19: The Flat Archetype of the Ruler

The Ruler represents the Flat or “resting” archetype that bridges the Queen’s rise to power and the King’s eventual surrender of that same power. As such, the Ruler represents the potential period in a person’s life in which he or she is in a position of leadership. This Ruler might be a literal head of […]