Tying theme to each archetypal character

by Patrick St.Hilaire

Question: How to tie the theme to each archetypal character? For instance the protagonist is stronger because his value or theme approach separates him from the world but what about the guardian or contagonist? How do you tie theme to the conscious or faith characters giving them value?


Answer: It's important to remember that the archetypal characters are part of the overall throughline of the story. The overall throughline will have one thematic argument, such as selfishness vs. selflessness or faith vs. disbelief. The archetypal characters may be involved in various events that demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of each side of the argument.

So let's assume that your contagonist, for example, tends to act in a selfish manner at times. You may show how sometimes that choice is advantageous and at other times it is disadvantageous.

Or you might have another character who also acts selfishly, but in a different way or in different situations, and so is judged differently.

This invites the reader to weigh up whether selfishness is generally good or bad.

At the same time, you may have other characters who act selflessly. (Perhaps your protagonist?) Again, sometimes this may be the best choice. Other times it may be a bad choice.

In this way, you can build up a very complex argument, inviting readers to have a lot of fun weighing up the pros and cons of each side of the argument in order to reach a conclusion as to which principle is better.

As the writer, you are free to stack the evidence however you like. But don't make it 100% on one side, because then you're not letting the reader weigh things for themselves.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero