Archetypal Characters: their 8 functions

by Dena

Question: Archetypal Characters: their 8 functions. Can you clarify how I could make the characters have all of these function in a different way?

Answer: To clarify, Dramatica identifies 16 character functions. Each function has its polar opposite, making the following pairs:

pursue vs. avoid
consider vs. reconsider
faith vs. doubt
support vs. oppose
help vs. hinder
conscience vs. temptation
feeling vs. logic
control vs. uncontrolled

The 8 archetypal characters are simply traditional ways of dividing up the 16 functions. Each of the archetypal characters possesses two functions:

Protagonist: pursue, consider
Antagonist: avoid, reconsider
Sidekick: faith, support
Skeptic: doubt, oppose
Guardian: help, conscience
Contagonist: hinder, temptation
Reason: control, logic
Emotion: uncontrolled, feeling

However, you don't have to use these archetypal groupings. You can give a character whatever function or functions you want, as long as you don't give any character functions that oppose each other. For instance, it would make no sense for a character to have both the faith and the doubt functions.

Let's say you have two characters, Bob and Doug who are the bad guys in your story. But instead of the archetypal antagonist and contagonist roles, you assign their functions this way:

Bob: avoid, hinder
Doug reconsider, temptation

Now these guys are a little different. One perhaps works more physically, the other psychologically.

Or you could mix it up even more:

Bob: avoid, logic
Doug: reconsider, feeling

Now Doug may come across as a wimpy character whose emotions hamper the other characters, while Bob becomes calculating in his effort to thwart the hero.

You don't have to give each character two functions: a character can theoretically have anywhere from zero to eight. However, between one and three would be typical for major characters.

The important thing is to make sure all the functions are represented to give balance to your cast.

Comments for Archetypal Characters: their 8 functions

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Jul 23, 2013
Question on Archetypal Characters
by: Anonymous

Can the main character fulfill multiple functions; can he for instance represent the emotional side of the book while other characters try to sway him to logic? Or must all functions but the protagonist remain external?

Jul 23, 2013
by: Glen

Your main character can be any of the 8 archetypes (including Emotion), or you can assign the functions non-archetypally.

For instance, you can give your main character the functions of pursue and consider, to make her the protagonist, but also give her the function of feeling and/or uncontrolled. Or maybe just just give her pursue and feeling and give another character consider and uncontrolled.

It's your choice. The guideline is simply to not give the same function to more than one character at the same time.

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