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Casting of your Novel Characters

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Writers will tell you that the birth of their novels happens in one of two ways. For some it begins with an idea. “A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers” (The Matrix). “A shark terrorizes a New England beach resort” (Jaws).

For others, a great story begins with the character in mind. Think Forrest Gump!

In the latter case it’s important to note that your zany character will need to be embedded with a cast of other notable characters. However what a lot of writers (usually newbies) don’t know is that there are certain archetype characters that have been cast in stories as early as the invention of fiction writing.

Some writers may scoff at the idea of purposely planning for character development. Usually these are the ones who prefer to write off the cuff (i.e. without an outline). And that’s fine…except the best stories that tend to have the greatest reception rarely deviate from the selection and casting of archetype characters.

Most writers learned early on (before they even though of themselves as writers) of the two main archetypes in literature: the Protagonist and the Antagonist…..but it doesn’t end there!

Most writers learned early on (before they even though of themselves as writers) of the two main archetypes in literature: the Protagonist and the Antagonist…..but it doesn’t end there!

True, it would be nuts to envision a story without these two archetypes but yes, some have tried.

Before we move on, remember that an archetype may not necessarily consist of a human character. For instance, in Jaws the antagonist is a shark. In the Perfect Storm, it’s the weather.

For those of you unaware of other characters, this quick tutorial is intended to introduce you to other archetypes.

Protagonist
the main character of your story.* * * *
Antagonist –
opposes protagonist

* * * *
Guardian
helps wherever the protagonist needs. Think Gandalf in Lord of the Rings

* * * *
Contagonist
presents temptation. This is antagonistic character who keeps getting in the way of the protagonist. This character is causes tension and conflict. Unlike the antagonist this character doesn’t always oppose the protagonist.

* * * *
Reason
someone who presents the logical choice of action. Think “Data” or “Spock” on Star Trek

* * * *
Emotion
someone who presents the emotional choice. In Star Trek this would be Dr. Leonard McCoy.

* * * *
Sidekick
unflinching support for protagonist.

* * * *
Skeptic
just how it sounds…skeptical of decisions made or paths presented

Note, some characters may embody multiple archetypes. Spock for instance is a REASON character but one can also argue he’s also a SIDEKICK.

END.

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