“The art of writing cannot be taught, but the craft of writing can.  No one can teach you how to tap inspiration, how to gain vision and sensibility but you can be taught to write lucidly.”

~~ Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages

Archetypes invaded the writing world decades ago, but new writers–and experienced ones needing a refresher–should add these building blocks to their tool kits, just as an artist has tubes of oil in the paint satchel and a chef has ingredients in the pantry.

Explorers will find multiple versions of archetype charts on Pinterest as well as numerous blogs.  All of that information is bequeathed to us by four men.

Most Recent & Most Accessible Work on Archetype

Christopher Vogler and The Writer’s Journey:  Mythic Structure for Writers found here.

Vogler, for those who have never heard of him, once wrote a very famous memo to a Disney executive that changed the film industry’s view of story.  This book is still available and is a fast read.  Vogler lectures on story structure, so notes and video clips are all over the internet.

This book stays on my reference shelf while others have come and gone.  It is clear and concise, so basic that I must admit it is incomplete.  However, it remains a good starting point.  It is Vogler’s work, simplified, that we will work from.

Vogler is working off the ideas of our second man:

Powerful & Blissfully Erudite on Archetypes

Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, first presented in his book The Hero with a 1,000 Faces found here.

Campbell’s Keys

Campbell has no PhD attached to his name;  he is the perfect example of brilliance not

needing a degree of title.

In a simple little chapter called “The Keys”, he sets forth the workings of his archetypal journey.

Campbell’s fully developed monomyth (a single pattern = archetype) presents 17 Stages for the Hero which Vogler reduces to 12 Stages of the Archetypal Journey.

This is very much like those Pinterest boards pointing out 15 (or 17) steps of the protagonist in resolving the trials of Harry Potter or Tolkien’s heroes and so on.

Campbell benefitted from the pivotal work of two men:

The Giant Mind that Developed Archetypes

Without Carl Jung, we would not have archetypes.  While he began as a student of Sigmund Freud, he disagreed with the emphasis on libido as a driving force.

(Even Freud eventually and most famously said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”) 

Jung’s work crosses over several volumes.  One of them is Man and his Symbols found here.

The Seminal Text that Came before Archetypes

Both Campbell and Jung had to know the 1890 work of Sir James George Frazer The Golden Bough (which once I tried to read.  He will be the least accessible of these four minds.).

The Bough compares as it compiles myths and religious stories from across all cultures.  Such a wide gathering of information allows the patterns that are archetypes to be recognized.  The Bough can be found here.

This work must have enabled Campbell to find the commonalities that led to his ground-breaking theory of the monomyth.  

The Hero and his Journey

Alfred Smedburg’s 1912 “Bland tomtar och troll”

The hero’s (and heroine’s) journey creates an individual that is separate from the group identity.  As Jung states in Psychological Types, “the development of the psychological individual [is] a being distinct from the general, collective psychological”.

Through archetype, our protagonist becomes strong as 1] s/he stands away from the group and 2] determines a personal desire and path to achieve it.  3] He must face monsters, both external and 4] internal, and 5] overcome the darkness to reach his desire–6] which may have changed as he matured on his path.

So, how do we separate our protagonist—and other primary characters—from the group?

Next Blog, Jan. 20: 4 Types of Men Leaders :: Oh, Those Men!

I’m looking forward to this one–not dry at all!

~~M. A. Lee


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