How to write Archetypes
If you write stories, you’re probably already using archetypes without realizing it. These characters, symbols, and situations seem to bubble up from every human being’s subconscious mind when we create stories. That’s why so many of the world’s mythologies have similar plot lines and characters. Once you understand the concept of archetypes, you can look through your own writing to see which archetypes are most compelling to you. Perhaps you frequently write archetypal heroes (ordinary people called to adventure who are then transformed by that adventure). Or maybe there are symbolic archetypes, such as trees or rivers, that appear more frequently in your writing.
When to use Archetypes
Archetypes make for some of the best inspiration. When you’re writing a story, it’s often helpful to think about which archetypes you’d like to throw into it. Is your main character a hero? Or an anti-hero? Is there a trickster somewhere in the story? If so, does he/she ultimately end up being evil, or good? You can select archetypes the way a chef selects spices – experimenting with new combinations to see how the archetypes interact with each other within the story.
Although archetypes usually appear in fictional stories and myths, they may also have a place in non-fiction writing, especially biographies. If you’re writing a biography of a historical figure, say, you may gain insight into the story by thinking about which archetype the person best fits. If you were writing about Napoleon, for example, you might write him as an archetypal hero (emphasizing his ordinary upbringing and his call to adventure), or you might write him as a trickster (emphasizing the way that he embodied self-contradictions and appeared to have different attributes in different situations).