A while back I won a signed edition of Kindar’s Cure from one of Michelle’s contests, and it finally arrived in the mail. Awesome~
According to Wikipedia, an archetype is defined as:
- A statement, or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated.
- The Platonic philosophical idea, referring to pure forms which embody the fundamental characteristics of a thing.
- In Jungian psychology, archetypes refer to a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.
- Archetypes can refer to a constantly recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting or mythology. This usage of the term draws from both comparative anthropology and Jungian archetypal theory.
In literature, The Mentor is an archetype (Gandalf, Obi Wan Kenobi, Dumlbedore, Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and so forth). So is the Everyman (Arthur Dent, Bilbo Baggins, John Watson… basically every character Martin Freeman has ever played). You can find twelve examples of them here— or spend the next two weeks of your life lost in the digital labyrinth that is TV Tropes. But while some archetypes are universal, every writer has a couple of tropes that are their personal favorites.
So here are two (three?) of mine:
The Pet Tiger
I began noticing these sorts of characters as a teenager. Izark/Izaac in From Far Away/Kanata Kara. Vegeeta in Dragon Ball Z (to some degree). Sesshomaru in Inuyasha. Yes, I watched a lot of anime during that time of my life. Recently, I would refer to Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Castiel from Supernatural as Pet Tigers, as is Booker DeWitt in Bioshock Infinite... though he’s got the less common designation of being an anti-hero to start out with, rather than an outright villain.
The pet tiger is a person who is powerful– often insanely so, to the degree that they first appear as a small-scale villain. They’re big, they’re scary, they could snap you like a toothpick. But then they have one too many run-ins with the wrong person (TV Tropes refers to this person as a Morality Pet). They’re forced into prolonged exposure to that person, for some reason can’t kill them, and they start to appreciate them– as a friend, as a potential lover, as somebody to protect, it doesn’t matter. Somehow, usually completely by accident, they wind up tamed. They still growl, but they don’t bite nearly as often– unless somebody hurts the Tiger’s Morality Pet. At that point, there is no force on Hell or earth that can save you from their wrath.
In my writing, Pet Tigers tend to be associated with cats or dogs– predators that in their larger forms famously eat people, but which we keep as loving pets.
If the name Kya is familiar, this is why. Once upon a time, my best friend and I started working on a story together. The two main characters were originally based on ourselves– and then stylized and exaggerated so many times so as to become something else entirely. My character’s name was Jara, hers was Kya.
The Kya is bright and bubbly, trusting and naiive– not because she’s stupid, but because she can afford to be. She’s nice to everyone and give them the benefit of the doubt, because if they betray that trust, she knows the Jara will royally mess them up. In comparison, the Jara is quiet, and usually only opens her mouth to be snide, snarky, or strategic. She naturally assumes the worst of others, and is ready with contingency plans for anything that could possibly go wrong. Usually violent ones. Often the Jara tries to experience joy vicariously through the Kya, usually by spoiling her rotten and letting her have her way, and tends to express anger on both of their behalf, so the Kya doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of such an outburst. They tend to be at least slightly codependent on one another, and stories tend to grind to a halt when they’re separated: the Jara is too practical to do anything adventure-worthy of her own volition (better to bunker down and fortify), and the Kya too whimsical and optimistic to stay alive very long without somebody to watch her back.
Will and Jem of The Infernal Devices are essentially poster children for the archetype. Supernatural‘s Sam and Dean sometimes reflect the Jara/Kya dynamic, but not nearly as much as do Flynn and Rapunzel from Tangled. Kyouya and Tamaki of Ouran High School Host Club also fit the mold to a degree.
I put a Jara/Kya pair in every work, even if they’re very minor characters. They’re easy enough to find: When I write them, the Jara of the pair always has ‘ara’ somewhere in her name. I like to think of it as a personal signature, not unlike the way Terry Pratchett always has Death make a cameo in the Discworld novels, even if he’s not part of the main plot line.
Admittedly, Pet Tigers and Jara/Kya pairs aren’t that far apart. A Jara could well be a Pet Tiger who’s had several years of practice. Generally Jara/Kya pairs have a longstanding history and tend to act as a unit rather than individually, while the Pet Tiger is more often seen grumbling alone in a corner until he’s needed.
Sensing a pattern here…?
I’m not shy about admitting that I’ve always had a thing for devotion that borders on the obsessive. Miss Pross is my favorite character from A Tale of Two Cities, as are Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings and Conseil from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… and Lindy is eternally tied with Maladonis Bin for my favorite character in Kindar’s Cure. These are the kind of characters I like to read about, and therefore they keep winding up my writing.
Do you have any personal tropes or archetypes you go out of your way to include– or ones that keep cropping up in your writing by accident? Tell us about them in the comments!
In case you hadn’t heard, Michelle Hauck and I are working together as freelance editors.
Today I’m proud to announce that not one, but two of our clients just hit the shelves!
Kyoko M. just came out with her first book, The Black Parade, an urban fantasy NA thriller with a holy twist.
One bullet is all it took to transform eighteen-year-old New Yorker Jordan Amador into the last hope for souls of the dead. However, it also transformed her into a cantankerous asocial waitress with a drinking problem. Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can communicate with ghosts, angels, and demons. Worse still, she did so on the eve of her own awakening, making her the last Seer on Earth with no one to guide her. As penance, God gives her two years to help one hundred souls with unfinished business cross over from Earth to the afterlife or she will go to Hell. Just as she approaches the deadline, Jordan finds her hundredth soul: a smart-mouthed poltergeist named Michael whose ability to physically touch things makes him distinct from her usual encounters with the dead. However, the deeper she delves solving his sudden death, the more she realizes something sinister is on the horizon. With time running short, Jordan stumbles across a plot that may unravel the fragile balance among Heaven, Hell, and Earth. Her life is plunged into chaos as she is hunted by demons that want to use her valuable Seer blood to bring about the end of the world and discovers that these creatures have a frightening connection to her family bloodline. Plus, the budding romance between Jordan and Michael makes it harder for them to let go of each other so he can become part of the eternal black parade.
Kyoko M is a recent graduate from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She hails from Riverdale, Georgia, a metro-Atlanta city, and currently lives in Ocala, Florida working on her novels. She has written articles for toonaripost.com, and is a 2011 winner of National Novel Writing Month for her title The Starlight Contingency, as well as being a first round finalist for the 2013 Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest for her debut novel The Black Parade. She has a passion for urban fantasy, science fiction, high fantasy, supernatural, and paranormal works. She is also known for being a sarcastic nerd whose influences include comic books, anime, movies, and various novel series.
Kyoko is joined by Nikolas Lee and his debut, The Iron-Jawed Boy, the first installment of The Sky Guardian Chronicles. It’s a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, set so far in the future that it curves back around and starts looking like the past.
Nikolas Lee was born in Evansville, Indiana, moved with his family to Las Vegas, Nevada, when he was eleven, moved back to Indiana when he was fourteen, then moved back to Las Vegas when he was sixteen. No, neither he, nor his family are under the witness protection program. Though that would be much cooler than the real reason. He currently resides in Santa Monica, California, where he’s usually watching anything with Tina Fey in it, or writing. He and Ion have been friends since he was eight years old, when Ion’s name was Thunder and Nikolas’s concept of proper comma usage was poor at best.
Both of these books are fantastic reads, so what are you waiting for? Hurry up and grab a copy!
The things you learn when researching!
My current WIP involved shapeshifters, and Michelle brought up a good question: Why doesn’t a shapeshifter just pick up the protagonist and fly her off, Hobbit-style, to where he needs to go?
I considered it a simple issue of physics: in order to pick up and carry an adult human, you’d need enormous wings, and eventually you get big enough that muscles wouldn’t be able to move them.
For reference I used the albatross, which is enormous but can only carry very small loads, and the extinct Haast’s eagle, which was believed to eat moa birds and occasionally human children before its main food source was hunted to extinction by the Maori several hundred years ago. Though it was relatively huge (roughly 45 lbs), it looks like it didn’t carry off its pray so much as dive at it, maul it like a tiger, and then eat it where it had fallen.
Now, I was under the impression that the Haast’s eagle was the largest predatory bird.
Turns out I was wrong. Continue reading “The things you learn when researching!”
Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools.
Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.
No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.
Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.
With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people.
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.