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45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters [Paperback]

Victoria Lynn Schmidt Ph. D.
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 Jan 2012

Create unforgettable characters your readers will love!

Want to make your characters and their stories more compelling, complex, and original than ever before? 45 Master Characters is here to help you explore the most common male and female archetypes--the mythic, cross-cultural models from which all characters originate.

  • Explore a wide variety of character profiles including heroes, villains, and supporting characters.
  • Learn how to use archetypes as foundations for your own unique characters
  • Examine the mythic journeys of heroes and heroines--the progression of events upon which each archetype's character arc develops--and learn how to use them to enhance your story.
Complete with examples culled from literature, television, and film, 45 Master Characters illustrates just how memorable and effective these archetypes can be--from "Gladiators" and "Kings" like Rocky Balboa and Captain Ahab to "Amazons" and "Maidens" like Wonder Woman and Guinevere. Great heroes and villains are necessary to bring any story to life; let this guide help you create characters that stand the test of time.

Frequently Bought Together

45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters + 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them + The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories
Price For All Three: 40.21

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 3rd edition (12 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599635348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599635347
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Victoria Lynn Schmidt is the author of 45 Master Characters, Story Structure Architect and the best-selling Book in a Month. She has extensive experience and training in psychology, self healing, and spirituality and began her career as a screenwriter for film and television. She also teaches for several Universities including Tiffin. http://www.victorialynnschmidt.com

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful in parts, but not in isolation... 22 Jun 2012
By far the strongest part of this book are the forty-five archetypes and the elaborate detail that accompanies each. It is more than a little annoying that a forty-sixth archetype is available as a downloadable extra; I buy a book to have all my information in one place, not in a book and a second wad of printed pages! When the book discusses the masculine and feminine journeys, I found it borrowed quite heavily from Vogler's 'The Writer's Journey' without any references to that or other texts. I would recommend Vogler's book before diving in here, so you can follow the journeys more coherently. Although good, this book would benefit from some illustrations to show how the journeys compare, rather than the rather poor comparison table tacked into the appendix. In summary, worth it for the archetypes alone, but the journey information feels a bit like filler and downloadable content is just a pain.

NB I agree with the gender polarisation issues expressed in the reviews for the Kindle edition of this title. Worth a read before you purchase!
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Character Bible 17 July 2012
By Pink Hatter - Published on Amazon.com
Without a doubt, Victoria Schmidt's revised edition of "45 Master Characters" is the best character reference guide I own. Not only does the book go into depth about the different archetypes like it promises, the book also gives you access to an additional 46th character you can download off of the Writer's Digest website, and it also has a chapter on creating plots. The book is divided as follows:

Part I: Getting Started
Part II: Creating Female Heroes and Villains
Part III: Creating Male Heroes and Villains
Part IV: Creating Supporting Characters
Part V: Creating Feminine and Masculine Journeys
There is also an index and appendix at the back of the book, the latter being quite useful if the reader/writer decides to follow Schmidt's advice on plot arcs.

The first part, Getting Started, is a short part, but also quite useful. Besides the author providing a clear distinction between archetypes and stereotypes, Schmidt also has a handy little character questionnaire. Normally, I'm not too keen when I have to answer questions like, "what is your character's favourite colour and why?" but the questions in the questionnaire are designed to help the aspiring writer see archetypal patterns in the character, which will help him/her define what their characters' dominant archetype is. She also has a list of motivating factors.

The next two parts of the book are real gems. They are PACKED with information on potential backstories for each archetype, character flaws, fears, motivations, how other characters might perceive this character (both positive and negative views), and more. I also love how the author made a "good side" of the archetype and an antagonistical side. For example, with the goddess Demeter, her good side is The Nurturer but her villainous side is the Over-Controlling Mother. On the topic of Demeter and other gods and goddesses, I especially love how the author decided to base the archetypes on mythic models. This makes it extremely easy to visualise what the characters may be like, and also makes remembering the various archetypes easier than they would be without a mythic base. At the end of each chapter, Schmidt provides a list of literary, historical, TV and movie examples for the archetype just described. I find it especially interesting how even though there are so many characters based on the same archetype, there are still many different characters that can spring from that foundation. For example, I never would've guessed that both Captain Kirk (Star Trek) and Jerry Springer (Seinfeld) were both based on Zeus' archetype. These two sections of the book are super helpful when it comes to laying down the basic foundations of one's character(s).

Part IV, Creating Supporting Characters, is just as helpful as Part II and III. The author not only goes on to explain the main archetypes for friends and rivals, but also talks about symbolism. Personally, I'm not the type of writer who actively seeks out placing symbolic characters throughout my manuscript, but I will find this section useful when asked to do a novel study for a class or when asked to write a short piece of literary prose.

The last part of the book is badly mislabelled, being called The Feminine and Masculine Journeys. When I first got to this part, I was very confused, wondering if there was a difference in the journeys male and female protagonists must go on. There might be a slight difference, but when the author started going deeper into her explanation, I realised she was talking about something else. This part could also be renamed to Plot Driven vs Character Driven Stories, Literary vs Commercial Fiction, and several other names. The fact that she labelled these fiction styles as Feminine and Masculine Journeys might not bother some people, but even if it does, don't let that stop you from thinking this is a good book. However, in terms of content for this particular part, I found nothing that especially stood out to me. Every piece of information I was reading I could easily find in another book on plot, such as James Scott Bell's "Plot and Structure" and Larry Brook's "Story Engineering." The advice on structure was very formulaic, but at the same time, I agree with pretty much everything she noted. Nonetheless, I would still find the last section of the book a lot more helpful if I were writing a movie script.

So if the book is this amazing, you might be wondering why I only gave it four stars. The answer is the feminism. To be honest, I found that the character archetypes being separated into male and female categories unnecessary and annoying. While flipping through the pages in the book store, I felt it was okay that Aphrodite and Artemis acted the way they did, but when I got to Athena, I was also annoyed. Being the only female archetype who is a business women, part of her motivating factors involved "wanting to fit in with the boy's club." Um...what? Knowing a couple female professionals in private industry, I can definitely say that they did not become business women because they wanted to "prove they [were] equal to men," but because they love what they do. The feminism and sexism doesn't stop at these three goddesses. (There is a useful review here explaining the feminism and sexism towards both genders in the book: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3GE5QBE2HR7JX/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3GE5QBE2HR7JX) As a result, whenever I refer to this book, I'll most likely be looking at the male section for the bulk of my characters, regardless of gender. Obviously, these archetypes will also just be a basic foundation.

Overall, I definitely got my $17.06 money's worth from this book. I read it from cover to cover in about a day and discovered a WEALTH of information. It's sitting on my desk along with my other character references (Writer's Guide to Character Traits and Nancy Kress' Dynamic Characters), but this will be the one I'll refer back to most often.

The verdict? Buy this book. It will sharpen your characters into three-dimensional ones and do wonders for your plot. Just be warned about the stuff I mentioned.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really? 25 Oct 2012
By Jake - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was really taken aback by this book, because it came highly recommended as a character building writing tool, but the truth is that this book is an exercise to see if the author can write enough words to sell a book. This is an updated version too, but I think the most recent reference is about the show Will and Grace. Come on. You would think that an author with as long a laundry lis of works as this lady likes us to believe she has wouldn't have to resort to repeating herself as much as she does to fill space. Her breakdowns are sparse, yet somehow all over the place, and in some places offputtingly and unnecessarily spiritual. I'm trying to learn how archetypes relate to creating characters that fit into just about any modern screenplay, and she describes several of her archetypes as being psychic, or interested in spirits, or inclined toward the occult. These descriptions, again, are just filler since they do nothing to guide the reader toward creating realistic characters. The book worked on me because I ended up buying it, which was the only purpose this author set out with. But heed this warning and don't make the same mistake.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Archetypes too severe. 2 Jan 2013
By Hugh - Published on Amazon.com
I must say that Schmidt's approach to archetypes using the Greek Gods & Goddesses to illustrate them was fascinating. There are some nuggets in the book, but I didn't feel the archetypes were that useful. I found the major male and female types too severe. I couldn't find one that I could use for my protagonist.

Overall, it wasn't what I expected.
4.0 out of 5 stars 45 Master Characters helps add depth 25 Mar 2014
By M. Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has been very helpful in developing three-dimensional characters that feel more real. The added character traits -- especially when taken as suggestions not rules -- have helped me create more depth not only in my characters, but also in my scripts as a whole. While this book is not the be-all-end-all, it certainly has initiated a few creative sparks when I needed them. It's a small investment for the possible huge benefits you may take away from it.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is epic!!!!! 29 Dec 2013
By Emelia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is the perfect companion to any and every writer out there! I highlighted so much (more than any other book I've read). Victoria Lynn Schmidt really goes in depth on each archetype and really understands the psychology behind each individual. Absolutely BRILLIANT!!!!
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