Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Archetypes for Your Heroine by Marji Laine

Two weeks ago, Marji Laine gave us information on Archetypes for Your Hero. Today, she's back to talk about various types of heroines. -- Sandy

Marji: Once you have a great hero, he needs a fabulous heroine. Again, Tami D. Cowden’s book, The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes, provides an excellent diving board along with Hippocrates temperaments and Carl Jung’s personality categories.

  • Boss is totally in control. (Hippocrates=choleric, Jung=visionary) She has her plan, and has no problem spouting orders to accomplish her goals. Margaret Tate in “The Proposal makes a perfect example, as does Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.”
  • Librarian is an expert. (Hippocrates=melancholy/choleric, Jung=thinker) She unearths things others miss because she’s committed to her projects. Think Kathleen Turner’s character in “Romancing the Stone,” Marian the Librarian in “The Music Man,” and Abby Scuito on the TV show NCIS.
  • Waif is the damsel in distress. (Hippocrates=phlegmatic/sanguine, Jung=”nurturer”) She needs rescuing, though she harbors inner strength. Maybe not every Disney princess, but more than half fit this category, as does Juliet, Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” and Buttercup in “The Princess Bride.
  • Nurturer is the mommy, nurse, or teacher. (Hippocrates=phlegmatic/melancholy, Jung=caregiver) Happy to be in the background, she’ll encourage when needed or give swift kicks in the right direction. Mrs. Crawley of Downton Abby, Eleanor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility, and Mary Poppins round out this group.
  • Seductress is a manipulator. (Hippocrates=choleric/melancholy, Jung=inspirer) Though her name reeks of sexuality, this woman will use anything to achieve her goals. Think Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, Evita, Cleopatra, and Black Widow from “The Avengers.”
  • Free Spirit is artistic, uninhibited, and spontaneous. (Hippocrates=melancholy/sanguine, Jung=idealist) “The Little Mermaid,” Jane Austen’s Emma, and Phoebe from the TV show “Friends” make good examples.
  • Spunky Kid is a grown-up tomboy. (Hippocrates=sanguine/phlegmatic, Jung=giver) She’s just one of the guys, seldom seen in a romantic light. Lucy from “While You Were Sleeping” fills this category, as does Kathleen Kelly in “You’ve Got Mail,” Gidget and Maryann from the TV show “Gilligan’s Island.”
  • Crusader is the female version of the warrior. (Hippocrates=sanguine/choleric, Jung=duty-fulfiller) She’s prepared to go down fighting if need be. Think Helen Hunt from “Twister,” Ziva from the TV show NCIS, and Sandra Bullock’s character in “Miss Congeniality.”
Archetypes are the characters at the root of their being. Figuring out a personality type helps to anticipate the way they react to the story-rocks thrown at them. For example: at a sudden fire, the Boss will step in, sending someone to call the fire department. The Waif will likely be trapped inside the burning building. The Seductress will be using the excitement to her advantage. The Free Spirit might stare at the design the flames make against the sky. The Spunky Kid will chat with everyone watching. The Crusader will haul out the hose. And the Librarian will glance at the whole scene from her window across the street.

With the basic traits of the archetypes, it’s easier to craft logical responses from the characters, assign flaws to them, and match them up in relationships.

Is there a particular archetype for heroines that you like to use in your stories? Do you have a favorite one to read about? Which one are you using now?


Marji is a homeschooling mom of 4 with the oldest a graduate of UT Dallas. She spends her days transporting to and from volleyball, teaching writing classes at a local coop, and directing the children’s music program at her church. Her first publishing credit, a collaborative novella, The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt, soared to Amazon's best-selling list and a second, A Ruby Christmas, is due out in December. She hosts the Faith~Driven Fiction Blog.