By Emily Hollenbaugh
All of the characters that you devise have a different role to play in your story. As you think about your cast, you might consider assigning its members some traits from the following archetypes.
One of the most common and least specific archetypes is that of the hero. Often, the hero of your story will simply be your main protagonist, but as far as archetypes go, a hero is the character who saves the day, who solves the problem. The archetypal hero, then, is a hero with respect to whichever situation he or she faces, and any number of your characters might fill this role throughout your story.
Other archetypes capitalize more on the personalities and habits of your characters than the particular situations of your story. The rebel, the explorer, or the jester might apply to your main protagonist or to some of your supporting characters. These are the characters who add either a little tension or comic relief to your cast of protagonists.
Archetypes like the magician or the sage can introduce a little mystery to your story, while characters such as the child or the orphan will play parts entirely different from those of the adults in your cast (although an adult character might also be an orphan). You might also take inspiration from the archetypes of the lover or the caregiver, who contribute to the emotional register of the story. Characters who consciously affect the course of your story’s action might fall into the categories of the ruler or the creator.
It is unlikely that a character will embody any one archetype completely. Understanding a host of archetypes and the general functions that they perform in a narrative is useful for keeping your characters consistent as they develop and the story progresses. Rather than attempt to write a character into an archetype, you can use a few relevant archetypes to guide the way you write each character.