Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 8: Introduction to the 12 Shadow Archetypes

Where there is light, there is shadow. Where is there is a right way to do things, there are usually several ways to do it wrong. So it goes with archetypal character arcs and their potential shadow archetypes—of which there are two for every positive archetype. Over the last few months, we have explored six […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 7: The Mage Arc

The final two archetypal character arcs in the life cycle deal primarily with questions of Mortality—and thus inevitably with the ultimate questions about the meaning of life. Throughout this series, we’ve viewed the six “life arcs” as part of a unified story structure, or Three Acts. The First Act—featuring the Maiden and the Hero—focused on […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 6: The Crone Arc

Within the saga of the six archetypal character arcs representing the cycle of human life, the two “elder” arcs that comprise the Third Act of life are perhaps the least dramatized. These arcs are those of the Crone and the Mage. In studying these arcs, it becomes evident that the Third Act of story structure […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 5: The King Arc

If we view the human life and thus the six archetypal character arcs of the “life arcs” as taking on the classic story-structure format of Three Acts, then it is no coincidence that the all-important Midpoint marks the transition from the Queen Arc to the King Arc. In any story, the structural Midpoint represents in […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 4: The Queen Arc

What happens after the happily ever after? This is a question we often ask but seldom explore. As discussed in previous weeks, the two archetypal character arcs that begin the cycle of six “life arcs” are the Maiden and the Hero. Together, they account for a great majority of the archetypal stories we read and […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 3: The Hero Arc

Ah, the hero. Heroic stories are so important and so prevalent throughout the history of storytelling that the word “hero” itself has become all but synonymous with that of “protagonist.” That the Hero Arc is in fact but one of many important archetypal character arcs does not lessen its importance within the cycle. The Hero’s […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 2: The Maiden Arc

The First Act of the human experience—roughly the first thirty years—may be thought of as a period of Initiation. It is a period of integrating the parts of one’s self. In many ways, it is a period in which the overarching, symbolic antagonist may be thought of as Fear. We use the arcs of this […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 1: A New Series

Archetypal stories are stories that transcend themselves. Archetypes speak to something larger. They are archetypal exactly because they are too large. They are larger than life. They are impossible—but ring with probability. They utilize a seeming representation of the finite as a mirror through which to glimpse infinitude. Despite their almost numinous quality, archetypes are […]

3 Character Arcs in the Karpman Drama Triangle

Drama presents something of an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, drama is the essence of story. Without it and its inherent dissonance, conflict, and stakes, there really isn’t much to a story. As writers and readers, we love drama. The irony is that, in real life, we recognize drama is often inherently destructive. “Drama queen,” “spare […]

7 Considerations for Your Antagonist’s Motivations (Which Will Save You SOOO Much Trouble)

Your antagonist’s motivations can make or break your story. If your antagonist’s motivations are weak, unconvincing, or over-complicated (which is usually symptomatic of the first two problems), then you will severely undermine your story in several key areas. Not only will you end up with a weak character to oppose your protagonist, but you may […]