Some general info

Some general info

Postby Cinemama » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:50 pm

First, I’d like to remind everyone that I wrote these during the time after Love Lasts Forever had aired. I’m posting them here without updating them for information that came after that episode. Any updates were basically done during discussions online, and unfortunately, I don’t have copies of those. Also, I may have edited my posts online and don’t have copies of that, either. So put your mind where it was after watching Love Lasts Forever… and before the events of The Mortal Cure…

Let me also explain that there are many different versions of archetypes – maybe infinite versions. I’ll start with a couple of definitions:

 Webster’s Dictionary: an inherited idea or mode of thought …present in the unconscious of the individual
 Encarta: an image, ideal, or pattern that has come to be considered a universal model

The best book I've found to explain character archetypes is 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. Her models are so very close to the way the main Moonlight characters have been written that I ended up using them as the basis for my analysis. What I've tried to do is pull examples of our Moonlight characters’ behaviors and show how they fit into these models. I refrain from discussing the complete aspects of the models, because I feel I'd be pulling information from her book (which would involve copyright law)...so I highly recommend this book if anyone is interested in further reading. There are plenty of other books on archetypes out there, but this one seems to fit these characters best. Plus I really like the way Ms. Schmidt approaches the models, as well as her attention to the female archetypes.

Also, the archetypes are presented as the heroic/villainous side of each archetype. For example, Beth as both the heroic Amazon and the villainous Gorgon. And as I had to explain after posting the original write-ups, the terms “hero” and “villain” are meant only from a literary perspective and are not meant to offend anyone. And that these are perfectly acceptable terms to use, by the way. The overall point in using both to describe the characters is that even though a character may be predominantly heroic, he/she will sometimes stray across the line into the villainous side of the archetype, and the same goes for predominately villainous characters.
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Re: Some general info

Postby bluedahlia3 » Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:51 am

Good to know Cinemama. I haven't read that one but I'll look for it. I've found Characters & Viewpoint helpful. It's by Orson Scot Card. He has quite a reputation after many novels and a Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy award.
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Re: Some general info

Postby nutmegger911 » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:59 am

Thanks for posting up this info. These sound like excellent resources for those looking to expand their understanding.
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Re: Some general info

Postby news » Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:09 pm

It's so nice to be reading all of this information that I've really missed. Thanks so very much for providing the reading material you've used Cinemama. Somehow I lost track of most of it, and I'm glad you've brought it all back to help explain how you've been able to capture and lay the foundation for your views of the archetypes.
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Re: Some general info

Postby Cinemama » Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:19 pm

bluedahlia3 wrote:Good to know Cinemama. I haven't read that one but I'll look for it. I've found Characters & Viewpoint helpful. It's by Orson Scot Card. He has quite a reputation after many novels and a Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy award.


Yes, I've read some of his work. Love Ender's Game.
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Re: Some general info

Postby Cinemama » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:03 am

news wrote:It's so nice to be reading all of this information that I've really missed. Thanks so very much for providing the reading material you've used Cinemama. Somehow I lost track of most of it, and I'm glad you've brought it all back to help explain how you've been able to capture and lay the foundation for your views of the archetypes.


Thanks! It's funny how this all happened, how I managed to capture these Moonlight archetypes! I read about writing...well, a lot. Whenever I get stuck on my novel or just need inspiration I read a book about writing and get unstuck or inspired. When I last counted my books about writing, I had more than 70, and I've added several more since then...so over 80, I'd guess. (Don't tell my husband!) Anyway, when I read Ms. Schmidt's 45 Master Characters I was really fascinated with it. But on the first read, (before Moonlight was a twinkle in Trevor Munson's eye) I had decided, well...too late. My characters are already written, I'm not going to completely change them, I'll just pull this book out for the next batch of characters. So months later I was struggling with one of my characters and thought maybe her archetypes would help after all.

So while trying to find whether the characters in my novel could possibly fit into any of the archetypes, I kept stumbling across Moonlight characters in there! Coraline was first, since I knew I had a femme fatale in my novel and was reading that section again. Then I found Mick, first as the Protector/Gladiator. But I really didn't think Beth or Josef fit anywhere. Until more episodes happened. Then after a particularly surly post about Beth on MLL, I decided to dig in further, because I just knew there was an explanation for her behavior. And I was finally able to pinpoint her as the Amazon/Gorgon. And after Sleeping Beauty I knew enough about Josef to pinpoint him.

Meanwhile, digging around for the Moonlight characters caused me to discover that the 6 main characters in my novel were all archetypal...I just hadn't realized it. That's when I realized that archetypes truly are in the subconscious, even though I had been resistant to that idea. And I discovered that in a few places in my novel that I had flagged as feeling 'awkward' for reasons I couldn't pinpoint, it was always when a character was...yup! Acting outside of his archetype. For example, it turns out that my main viewpoint character is the Businessman archetype. I had a scene where he was interacting with a child who had come to visit, and trying to make her feel welcome. The whole scene is awkward, and I couldn't figure it out. The dialogue was good, the pacing was right, there was humor, but the whole thing didn't work. I finally realized it's because HE needs to be awkward in the scene. His archetype isn't naturally in tune with children, and that was why the scene just felt off.

And here's a really funny little happening. I had never been able to pinpoint exactly what genre my novel IS. I knew it was some type of suspense, but couldn't fit it into a category. And at a writer's conference last summer, an agent informed me that my novel is a "Businessman in jeopardy" sub-genre of suspense. I nearly fell out of my chair. Of course it is! And I'm telling you I never consciously chose an archetype for anyone in my novel.

Anyway, I could rattle on about writing ad nauseum, so I'll stop myself now...

But the main point of this entire rambling dissertation is, if you want to write, use your archetypes! You may discover that you're naturally using them, anyway, and it will help you fine-tune your characters.
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Re: Some general info

Postby one.zebra » Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:37 am

Such a pleasure to see this discussion again....love the banner...welcome home..
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Re: Some general info

Postby Catmoon » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:52 am

Cinemama wrote:Meanwhile, digging around for the Moonlight characters caused me to discover that the 6 main characters in my novel were all archetypal...I just hadn't realized it. That's when I realized that archetypes truly are in the subconscious, even though I had been resistant to that idea. And I discovered that in a few places in my novel that I had flagged as feeling 'awkward' for reasons I couldn't pinpoint, it was always when a character was...yup! Acting outside of his archetype. For example, it turns out that my main viewpoint character is the Businessman archetype. I had a scene where he was interacting with a child who had come to visit, and trying to make her feel welcome. The whole scene is awkward, and I couldn't figure it out. The dialogue was good, the pacing was right, there was humor, but the whole thing didn't work. I finally realized it's because HE needs to be awkward in the scene. His archetype isn't naturally in tune with children, and that was why the scene just felt off.

And here's a really funny little happening. I had never been able to pinpoint exactly what genre my novel IS. I knew it was some type of suspense, but couldn't fit it into a category. And at a writer's conference last summer, an agent informed me that my novel is a "Businessman in jeopardy" sub-genre of suspense. I nearly fell out of my chair. Of course it is! And I'm telling you I never consciously chose an archetype for anyone in my novel.

Anyway, I could rattle on about writing ad nauseum, so I'll stop myself now...

But the main point of this entire rambling dissertation is, if you want to write, use your archetypes! You may discover that you're naturally using them, anyway, and it will help you fine-tune your characters.


I don't know if you read fanfic or not, but I was wondering if you do, do you find yourself thinking of the archetypes as you read? The way you are using to define everything: A scene being awkward and trying to figure out why, using archetypes in writing, sounds similiar to what I would call "following the muse." I wrote about that in your Josef post, but just wondering how you think muses fit in there? (I didn't realize you are an author yourself when I wrote it). Are they the unconscious archetypes, keeping us "honest" by alerting us if the character is "out of character"? This is all quite fascinating.
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Re: Some general info

Postby Cinemama » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:52 pm

one.zebra wrote:Such a pleasure to see this discussion again....love the banner...welcome home..


Thank you, one.zebra. I'm really glad to see you're here!
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Re: Some general info

Postby Cinemama » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:55 pm

Catmoon wrote:
I don't know if you read fanfic or not, but I was wondering if you do, do you find yourself thinking of the archetypes as you read? The way you are using to define everything: A scene being awkward and trying to figure out why, using archetypes in writing, sounds similiar to what I would call "following the muse." I wrote about that in your Josef post, but just wondering how you think muses fit in there? (I didn't realize you are an author yourself when I wrote it). Are they the unconscious archetypes, keeping us "honest" by alerting us if the character is "out of character"? This is all quite fascinating.


I do find this stuff fascinating. So, sorry, Catmoon, but with me there are usually not simple answers. :blushing: So I'm apologizing right up front for the length of this post, but here goes.

Believe me, using archetypes in this way has been a new development for me. My novel was almost finished (aside from infinite editing!) before I realized (thanks to Moonlight) that my characters actually were archetypal. Even after reading Ms. Schmidt's book, I didn't recognize my characters in her descriptions. It all seemed like a lovely theory...until I spotted our Moonlight characters in there. Then it was, "Hey! There's something to this!" Kind of a goosebumps feeling. But I don't relate everything to them by a long shot. I have so many things I look at, like I mentioned above, the dialogue, the pacing, the tone, etc., etc. But I had another goosebumps moment when I realized that in some of my scenes where I was truly at a dead-end about what to do with them, where something was really wrong but I couldn't figure it out using every other tool, the problem ended up being characters not being within their archetypes. It was such a relief to see what I needed to do with those scenes!

But there's one important thing to make clear about archetypes...in fact I included this near the beginning of my presentation at the Con last year. Any character can perform any action you need them to (or that the story you're telling needs them to), regardless of the archetype. All the framework of the archetype will do is flavor how they will take the action, and what the repercussions will be for the character. I used the clip of Mick telling "Morgan" that Anyone is capable of murder to illustrate this. And he's right. Any character can commit a murder, save someone, do the right thing, do the wrong thing, fall in love, fall out of love, lie, cheat and steal, etc. But how they feel about it is the key. Leading up to the event, during the event, and after the event. (And on a more shallow note, what they will wear while doing it is also important!) In other words, the writer has to lay the proper groundwork to make the character's actions believable. With Mick as his own example, he felt that he had murdered Coraline. And oh, how he suffered for it! And yet we have Josef flinging people into the tar pits (I know - he has them flung, but I like the visual) without much remorse, because he's practical about that sort of thing.

And now I'm pulling myself back to the question you actually asked...about fanfiction and archetypes. I have only read a little fanfiction, I'm sorry to say. But that's mostly because I read more about writing at the moment, or I read something from the suspense genre to keep me in the right mode. I tend to pick up styles from what ever I read, and I have to be careful what I read when I'm trying to write, or the tone of my novel changes in mid-stream, which is not a good thing. But I can say that usually when I read a novel, I don't think about archetypes. I usually get totally caught up in whatever I'm reading, and have a hard time analyzing. I really have to do a second reading to even attempt that.

But I think that one thing that helps us enjoy reading anything, beyond the first requirement of really good writing, is when the characters ring true. I think that when they don't, it's jarring, and pulls us out of that total immersion.

And about the muses being unconscious archetypes...

I think that the archetypes are definitely present in the subconscious, whether they happen to be a person's muse or not. So with me, it's just a nagging feeling that something's wrong with a scene that makes me dig and dig until I figure it out, and yes it was the framework of the archetype in my subconscious that was telling me there was a problem. But I don't know enough to know if that was my muse nagging at me... :confused2:

It may be the case with me that I've never acknowledged or recognized a muse. But I've got this nagging feeling that's probably about to change...
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Re: Some general info

Postby Catmoon » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:33 am

Cinemama wrote:I do find this stuff fascinating. So, sorry, Catmoon, but with me there are usually not simple answers. :blushing: So I'm apologizing right up front for the length of this post, but here goes.

Believe me, using archetypes in this way has been a new development for me. My novel was almost finished (aside from infinite editing!) before I realized (thanks to Moonlight) that my characters actually were archetypal. Even after reading Ms. Schmidt's book, I didn't recognize my characters in her descriptions. It all seemed like a lovely theory...until I spotted our Moonlight characters in there. Then it was, "Hey! There's something to this!" Kind of a goosebumps feeling. But I don't relate everything to them by a long shot. I have so many things I look at, like I mentioned above, the dialogue, the pacing, the tone, etc., etc. But I had another goosebumps moment when I realized that in some of my scenes where I was truly at a dead-end about what to do with them, where something was really wrong but I couldn't figure it out using every other tool, the problem ended up being characters not being within their archetypes. It was such a relief to see what I needed to do with those scenes!

But there's one important thing to make clear about archetypes...in fact I included this near the beginning of my presentation at the Con last year. Any character can perform any action you need them to (or that the story you're telling needs them to), regardless of the archetype. All the framework of the archetype will do is flavor how they will take the action, and what the repercussions will be for the character. I used the clip of Mick telling "Morgan" that Anyone is capable of murder to illustrate this. And he's right. Any character can commit a murder, save someone, do the right thing, do the wrong thing, fall in love, fall out of love, lie, cheat and steal, etc. But how they feel about it is the key. Leading up to the event, during the event, and after the event. (And on a more shallow note, what they will wear while doing it is also important!) In other words, the writer has to lay the proper groundwork to make the character's actions believable. With Mick as his own example, he felt that he had murdered Coraline. And oh, how he suffered for it! And yet we have Josef flinging people into the tar pits (I know - he has them flung, but I like the visual) without much remorse, because he's practical about that sort of thing.

And now I'm pulling myself back to the question you actually asked...about fanfiction and archetypes. I have only read a little fanfiction, I'm sorry to say. But that's mostly because I read more about writing at the moment, or I read something from the suspense genre to keep me in the right mode. I tend to pick up styles from what ever I read, and I have to be careful what I read when I'm trying to write, or the tone of my novel changes in mid-stream, which is not a good thing. But I can say that usually when I read a novel, I don't think about archetypes. I usually get totally caught up in whatever I'm reading, and have a hard time analyzing. I really have to do a second reading to even attempt that.

But I think that one thing that helps us enjoy reading anything, beyond the first requirement of really good writing, is when the characters ring true. I think that when they don't, it's jarring, and pulls us out of that total immersion.

And about the muses being unconscious archetypes...

I think that the archetypes are definitely present in the subconscious, whether they happen to be a person's muse or not. So with me, it's just a nagging feeling that something's wrong with a scene that makes me dig and dig until I figure it out, and yes it was the framework of the archetype in my subconscious that was telling me there was a problem. But I don't know enough to know if that was my muse nagging at me... :confused2:

It may be the case with me that I've never acknowledged or recognized a muse. But I've got this nagging feeling that's probably about to change...


No apology necessary -- I may just ramble on quite a bit myself here as this subject has illuminated so many things for me. I'm stunned, it's like a whole new world has opened up. I can now understand the process behind what I've been doing; when I have plans for a story and my muse sits down and refuses to cooperate, insisting on doing it his way regardless of what I wanted. Could be because what I was planning would have the character not being within its archetype. I think you should post about this subject in the Workshop as well, it could really be a fantastic tool for all of us ML authors, if we're stuck on something in a fanfic we could refer to the archetypes and see if that was the problem. It's easy to get caught up in what we want, or how we would handle a certain situation, and forget that the character might not handle it the same way.

I think that nagging feeling was probably your muse. ;) We have just been approaching the task from opposite ends, but now I can understand what I was doing, and you may find yourself recognizing the voice of the muse. Try giving it an archetypical personality, think of him/her as an 'invisible friend' if you will. ;) Some of us believe the muses (especially one in particular :whistle: ) are "thought forms." While I haven't really studied archetypes, I do believe in the collective unconscious, I'm fascinated with synchronicity and find Carl Jung's work brilliant. The best thing he ever did was break from Freud and go his own way. :snicker:

Now I'm starting to relate this to OC's (original characters) in fanfic. It can be hard to introduce them, readers want to read about the canon characters, and you have to be careful not to stray into Mary Sue territory. Could there be reasons why some are more successful than others? I got to thinking about a few of the more stronger, popular OC's, and I believe they may fall into the "swashbuckler" type (I don't know what that type would correspond to in Schmidt's book since I haven't read it, just did some online surfing to get a gander at some of the other types). Do you think that OC's might work best when they represent an archetype not present in ML canon? Maybe they are needed to fill a gap? Help better round out the canon characters without being a "threat" to them?

I have to say though, in a way I have a superstitious fear of delving too much into the archeypes, afraid being too aware of them will cause me to get too focused on that and lose the unconscious connection I have with them. Like I'll be overly analyzing every move they make. :snicker:
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Re: Some general info

Postby Cinemama » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:34 pm

Catmoon wrote:Now I'm starting to relate this to OC's (original characters) in fanfic. It can be hard to introduce them, readers want to read about the canon characters, and you have to be careful not to stray into Mary Sue territory. Could there be reasons why some are more successful than others?

I'm so sorry! I've been away for quite a while, apparently!

I do think the archetype used will affect how well the new character 'fits' with the canon characters. But sometimes a character is written who just isn't likeable. My sister was writing a novel that had that problem...the guy who was supposed to be the hero was despicable. A character can be dark, of course, and do things we don't like nor approve of...but there's got to be something in there that we can appreciate, or admire, or like, regardless of archetype (or hero/villain status).

Catmoon wrote:I got to thinking about a few of the more stronger, popular OC's, and I believe they may fall into the "swashbuckler" type (I don't know what that type would correspond to in Schmidt's book since I haven't read it, just did some online surfing to get a gander at some of the other types). Do you think that OC's might work best when they represent an archetype not present in ML canon? Maybe they are needed to fill a gap? Help better round out the canon characters without being a "threat" to them?


The "swashbuckler" idea is tough, because it depends on the nature of the swashbuckler in question. The type we're most likely to think of (Zorro, Lancelot, Jack Colton from Romancing the Stone) are Protector/Gladiators. But some that also seem to be swashbucklers fall under the King/Dictator archetype, such as Long John Silver, Captain Kidd and King Arthur. But even the Fool/Derelict could be a swashbuckler of sorts...I think Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow is probably the Fool/Derelict archetype, and so is Peter Pan. So I'm thinking Swashbuckler is a fairly broad archetype, and that several of Schmidt's archetypes will fit there. That's part of the beauty of an archetype - given the same parameters, the characters can still manifest in a very broad range of personality. As an example, The Businessman...he can be Spock, or Cary Grant in North by Northwest...very different, yet very similar.

Second question...I do think OC's work better when the new character has a different archetype. That's another great thing about Schmidt's book...she lists archetypes that can help each archetype grow in different ways. (I'm partly quoting, partly paraphrasing here) Using the King as an example, she lists The Artist as able to help the King "find and express his emotions and open himself to love and creativity." The Amazon (Beth!) can "show him that women can be great allies and friends" and "teach him that his feminine side doesn't have to be weak." Also, the King does not like for a woman to get the better of him. The Femme Fatale (Coraline!) "can be sneakier and therefore more powerful than he is."

These tidbits can help us choose the best archetype to help or hurt our character in a certain way.

Catmoon wrote:I have to say though, in a way I have a superstitious fear of delving too much into the archeypes, afraid being too aware of them will cause me to get too focused on that and lose the unconscious connection I have with them. Like I'll be overly analyzing every move they make. :snicker:


I wouldn't worry about this. I think the archetypes flow so naturally from our subconscious that your character will have an archetype whether you choose it or not. When you're in that flow of writing, all of the things we know about writing are just operating quietly in the background. And then you can use the pattern of the archtype to fine tune your characters in editing. I've mentioned before that the hero of my novel is the Businessman...and I have a scene early in my novel where his wife has caused a bit of chaos and he's upset about it. But when I wrote the scene, I wasn't aware of the play of the archetypes against each other, and now in revision I can choose to play that up a bit more. Because chaos is truly upsetting for the businessman. Or I can leave it with the more subtle feel - haven't decided yet...

Happy writing!
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Re: Some general info

Postby Catmoon » Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:03 am

Cinemama wrote:I'm so sorry! I've been away for quite a while, apparently!


No problem! I think knowing about archetypes can be useful for all writers, it's just another tool to have. Fascinating, too. I think sometimes authors (especially in regards to writing a canon character of the same gender) tend to write them the way we'd react to a situation and not in keeping with how the character would actually behave. Of course what's really dreadful is when television writers do that to our beloved characters themselves! :snicker: I think all this will be very useful to me when writing in a fandom where I don't have muses. In ML, the muses take care of that for me, but there are other shows where I don't "hear" the characters voices in my head. I tend not to write stories for those because that's when I'm all intimidated and worried I won't do a good job with them. Now if someone could explain to me why the heck I hear some voices and not others no matter how much I love them, I'd be happy! LOL.
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