Books Writers Should Read—3. 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

If you love mythology, then you will love 45 Master Characters, which provides character archetypes inspired by the ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses. If you struggle with fleshing out complex characters, then this book is your guide. Through the blueprints of these archetypes, Victoria Lynn Schmidt shows the good and bad sides of each character, their fears and motivations, how they interact with other characters, and how they can change throughout a story. She also shows various examples of these characters throughout history, literature, and popular culture.

building character

  • “How can you make new, exciting discoveries about your character if she’s nothing but a stereotype or a blank page in your mind? You may have plot points, but did you think about how your character will react to the situations those plot points put her in? This reaction drives the story forward, not the plot points. A character doesn’t decide to go into a burning building because that’s what your plot point says he should do—he goes inside because it’s in his nature to do so.”
  • “The stories they inhabit are not what make them memorable; what makes them memorable is the depth of their character, their three-dimensionality.”
  • “To a psychologist, archetypes are mental fingerprints revealing the details of a patient’s personality. To a writer, archetypes are blueprints for building well-defined characters, be they heroes, villains, or supporting characters.”
  • “You want to know what this character cares about not only to tell us who she is but to create obstacles by placing the thing she cares about most in danger as she tries to reach her goal.”
  • “The best tests a character can come up against stem from fear.”
  • “Archetypal characters must learn something from the experience you give them so they become more than just their archetype.”
  • “Supporting characters are a great source to use to develop conflict within a story. In their own unique way, each one of the supporting characters can create obstacles for the hero to overcome.”
  • “Both men and women need to dissolve the ego to awaken. Women come into their power to realize their authentic goals and connectedness, whereas men let go of their power to realize their authentic goals and connectedness.”
  • “The awakening is like a form of surrender the character goes through, a rebirth into the unknown.”
  • “Villains never believe themselves to be bad or wrong. They have concrete reasons behind what they do and truly believe they’re right and everyone else is wrong.”

Keep an eye out for my post on Monday, where I will share a book which teaches writers everything they need to know about grammar.

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