Book Review: Archetype Cards, by Caroline Myss--Use them to develop three-dimensional characters

Since I'm dreaming up new characters for my next novel, I'm drawn to resources that help me pull together three-dimensional characters that are interesting and compelling. Today's Archetype Cards offer tools that will help.

I found these through the recommendation of fellow blogger The Writing Nut. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to find the link where she's giving away a set of these cards. 

What is an archetype? The author describes them as "psychological patterns derived from historical roles in life, such as the Mother, Child, Trickster, Prostitute, and Servant . . ." When you begin reading the cards, you'll start to classify people you know according to the information you learn.

There are 80 cards in the deck, including six blank cards, which can be used to come up with your own archetypes. The cards give both the "light" and "shadow" of a particular archetype, which help show the downside to a character trait.

Here's an example from the booklet of the good and bad side of an archetype: "The Rebel . . . can be a powerful force leading you to reject illegitimate authority and strike out on a bold new path of action. But if you let your awareness lapse, its shadow aspect can induce you to rebel against constructive, positive leaders, or to fall in love with the image and trappings of rebellion."
Though these cards (and the accompanying instruction booklet) are not specifically made for writers, they can be useful for novelists and short story writers trying to come up with their umpteenth character, without making him or her sound exactly like the protagonist in their last book. The Writing Nut shares the details on how she uses the cards on her blog.

If you're interested in learning more about archetypes, here are a few links:

This page includes a gallery of archetypes, with a solid explanation of each one, and a list of how that particular archetype has been used in fiction, film, fairy tales, drama, and religion.

The Wikipedia article gives the history of archetypes, and more examples of how they've been used over the years.

Essortment has an article more specific to writers, titled Understanding Literary Archetypes.

As promised, here's the link to The Writing Nut's Archetype Cards giveaway. Best of luck to you!

Do you have any resources to help you come up with brand new characters?

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