Despite their almost numinous quality, archetypes are a very real force in our practical world. Think of it this way: all the things we imagine actually exist. Aliens. Vampires. Dragons. Fairies. All the memories of our actual reality also exist—in real time—in the same way. Regardless whether these things can be proven as corporeal, they still exist within the human experience and impact it. The deeper the shared belief, the deeper and more meaningful the archetype becomes.
Stories are one of our most powerful modes of exploring archetypes. This is true, as we’ve talked about elsewhere, in the very nature of story itself and more specifically in the patterns of plot and character arc structure that are revealed in the studies of story theory. But archetypes show up in a legion of increasingly smaller ways—from genres to iconic character types to symbolic imagery.
For a writer, one of the most exciting explorations of archetype can be found within specific character arcs—or journeys. These arcs have defined our literature throughout history, and they can be consciously used by any writer to strengthen plot, identify themes, explore life, and resonate with readers.
Read the whole thing at writer, K.M. Weiland’s blog, Helping Writers Become Authors.
The link is to Ms. Weiland’s fist of nineteen (thus far) posts exploring the fascinating subject of Archetypes and character Arcs. They’re all well worth reading.