Book Review – “45 Master Characters” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

45 Master Characters

Sometimes when I write, I get stuck on a certain character.  Whether it be the main character or a supporting character, I can have difficulty giving them a believable personality.  The most difficult types of characters for me to write were the villains and antagonists.  Understanding what motivates a person to do bad things was hard for me to relate to.  “45 Master Characters” was the perfect book to help.

Chapter one begins with defining archetypes.  Archetypes for characters are basically characters which fit within an ideal or generally accepted model.  Many characters in books and movies tend to fit into these models in some way or another.  This does not mean, however, that you can’t make your characters different from these.  But they are good basic guidelines to use in order to make your character model.  You can also combine archetypes into one character.

The book warns that archetypes are not stereotypes.  “Stereotypes are oversimplified generalizations about people usually stemming from one person’s prejudice.”  Stereotypes may be the way your main character is viewed by other characters in your book, but the archetype of your character shows who she really is.

Twenty eight of the forty five characters are divided into male/female, hero/villain.  The book defines the general personality traits of each archetype including what motivates them, their fears, and what they care about.  When you are creating characters for your book, it is helpful to use this information to determine how and why your character reacts to events and their surroundings.

Examples of the female archetypes described in this book include the Seductive Muse, the Backstabber, the Nurturer, the Betrayer, the Maiden, and the Troubled Teen.  Examples of the male archetypes are the Protector, the Businessman, the Gladiator, the Warlock, the Seducer, and the King.  The names almost speak for themselves, but the book goes into much greater detail.

The next thirteen character types are the supporting characters.  There are three types of friends – ones who are close confidants of the character or ones who show up along the way to offer advice or assistance.  There are six types of rivals (rivals are not necessarily villains).  And there are three types of characters who provide symbolism to the story.  For example, a supporting character could be a person who represents the hero’s past or a person who represents who the character wants to become.

This is forty one of the forty five characters.  For the life of me, I can’t determine what the last four are unless it is in Part V of the book which describes difference between the feminine and masculine journeys.  In the feminine journey, the protagonist travels a path which could lead her (or even him) to power or success.  In the masculine journey, the protagonist has power but loses it.  In the feminine journey, the protagonist can either succeed or give up.  In the masculine journey, the protagonist can either embrace the change and grow to be better for it or deny the change and lose everything.

“45 Master Characters” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt was very helpful.  Although each character in my book already tended to fit into one or more of these archetypes or supporting characters, this book helped me go into more depth with their personalities.  I wish I had read “45 Master Characters” before writing my book.  Reading it after caused me to go back and edit.  But that’s okay.  If you want to write or are writing a fantasy novel, consider reading “45 Master Characters”.

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