Finding Plot Roles For Archetypes

by Michael Barnaby
(North Fort Myers, Florida)

Question: My story idea is this: Protagonist has lived entire life passively through to retirement (shown by examples) and then has something stolen - rosary beads carved of olivewood that's been in the family for generations. Obviously only sentimental value to rosary. Theft finally moves him to action. {I have antagonist and contagonist and reason for theft covered}. Would like Protagonist to travel (to Florida from NY and meet other characters) in order to solve. Problem: I've tried, but can't imagine 1.Having other characters with interest/need to be involved throughout the story and 2. at the same time, fit archetypes. Any advice will be appreciated.

Thank You.

Answer: In order to properly help you with this question, I would need to know what the Story Goal is.

Is the Protagonist trying to recover the rosary? Catch the thief? Reconnect with his family or his past? Recover a memory?

A clear Story Goal can act as an organizing principle for the characters as well as the plot.

For instance, the Sidekick could be anyone who speaks in favour of the Protagonist's quest, while the Skeptic would be someone who is against it. (Keep in mind, the Antagonist could be the person who keeps company with the Sidekick or Skeptic.) These characters don't need to be intimately involved with the rosary to have an opinion.

You could also have a character who helps the Protagonist on his quest - a Guardian - who balances the Contagonist. This could be a policeman, social worker, family member, friend taxi driver, or anyone in fact who takes an interest in the Protagonist.

Finally, since it obviously takes a big push to get this Protagonist to embark on the quest (since he is by nature a Be-er), perhaps the Emotion character could be the person who gets him moving with an emotional appeal - reminding him why it is so important to recover the rosary. It could even be someone in a memory or dream.

The possibilities are really endless. The idea is that all the possible motivations related to the Story Goal are represented, so that the story feels complete.

What you might do is make a list of all the possible people the Protagonist could encounter or needs to encounter in his quest for the Story Goal and then see which ones it might be interesting to assign an archetypal role.

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