Tag Archives: 45 Master Characters

7 New Deals (Coley, Haines, Knight, Metcalf, Pearce, Schmidt & Shepherd)

Liz Coley‘s Pretty Girl 13 to Katherine Tegen Books (World English) for publication in 2012. About a girl abducted at 13, returned at 16, with no memory of the missing years but with a host of alternate personalities who have kept her sane.

Lise Haines‘s 2009 novel Girl in the Arena optioned by Charlize Theron’s production company. Features gladiator fighting & a forced engagement between Lyn & her family’s enemy.

Karsten Knight‘s next 2 books that continue the dangerous story of a fiery volcano demigoddess, to Simon & Schuster Children’s (World).

Dawn Metcalf‘s Indelible Ink in a 2-book deal to Harlequin Teen (World). Features a heroine who is accidentally marked by a mysterious boy, which places her in the midst of a dangerous, otherworldly plot to end the Age of Man.

Jackson Pearce‘s Fathomless. A young mermaid wants to leave the sisterhood of dark, soulless creatures & regain her humanity, which she can only do by convincing a mortal to love her & stealing his soul.

Victoria Lynn Schmidt‘s 2nd edition of the popular Writer’s Digest book 45 Master Characters. Releasing in 2012, the book will help aspiring authors learn how to create characters with unique personalities by using well-known archetypes.

Megan Shepherd‘s The Madman’s Daughter to Balzer & Bray (NA) in a 3-book deal for publication in 2013. A Gothic thriller trilogy pitched as loosely inspired by H. G. Wells’ classic THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, in which Dr. Moreau’s 16-year-old daughter travels to her estranged father’s island & finds murder, madness, & a love triangle with an enigmatic castaway & her father’s handsome young assistant.

Emotionally Manipulative Avatar & Its Character Development

Avatar (in 2D) wowed me. It shouldn’t have, since I’d read an extensive plot summary from Wikipedia. The visuals don’t really seem spectacular until at night, when bioluminescence comes into play. Particularly in scenes with humans, the avatars are a bit strange – they, and the Omaticaya, look rather skinny, as they’re so tall, but their builds may not be accurately proportioned. And the military’s massive human-controlled robots (?) remind me of Richard Nixon’s Head with a super-robotic body in Futurama. Kind of funny.

The characters really grabbed me. I didn’t just witness or feel the emotions, but also understood how they were created, thanks to my recent study of Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s fabulous text on archetypes, 45 Master Characters. Neytiri is so Artemis – like Futurama‘s Leela, for example. A natural leader, smart, confident, strong, agile…and has to teach an Earth-born eejit many lessons in life. And she’s so expressive – words, sounds, actions. Could be common in the Na’vi culture – they don’t hold back. They take life by the balls. And Neytiri has a gorgeous accent, kind of like Spanish. Other characters sound more African, Caribbean, and Māori – just like we who speak English have different accents.

It’s undeniable that Jake Sully is, at first, too stupid to live. When his avatar is activated, he disobeys orders to take time adjusting to his new form – he runs into the great outdoors, facing it full-on. Ends up alone in the forest. Touches things he shouldn’t touch. Fights with animals (shoot first; ask questions later); needs to be rescued. Knowledge is sorely lacking. But once he has the intelligence, Jake’s a much better warrior. His curiosity and willingness to learn are great traits, and he’s not just about the mission – he’s finding himself, which sounds rather cliché, but is handled so well.

In short, Jake is a prime example of character development. He changes, and for the better. Unafraid and willing to accept help. Knows his strengths and weaknesses – the humans and the military are his strong points, and Neytiri knows Pandora and the Na’vi. And when it comes to their relationship, he lets Neytiri take the lead – the “choosing” scene is kind of sweet.

Usually romances in fiction don’t work for me because I don’t care for, or like, the characters – or if I do early on, they change in an annoying way once hooked up. But this romance is understandable, and thus works. Though she’s unimpressed to be teaching Jake at first, as he gains education and skills and spirituality, Neytiri becomes rather proud of him. She plays a major part in changing Jake for the better; he’s like her creation. Neytiri is pretty darn strong at the beginning, but this must improve her self-esteem, nonetheless.

They’re both kind of dour characters at first, so seeing them grow to smile and laugh together is just charming. They work for this relationship. Learn to respect and then trust each other, before ever thinking of lust or love. Eywa’s signs of approval put Jake in a positive light for Neytiri. Love me, love my People. Love my animals. Love our Eywa. This is shown rather than told, as Jake must match up on those levels before engaging Neytiri.

And Jake doesn’t just snatch the lead of the Na’vi. He doesn’t want to fight Tsu’tey, but does when drawn into it. He gains trust by connecting with the animals…and by asking Tsu’tey permission to address his People. Mind you, Jake didn’t really volunteer for the Avatar programme, anyhoo – it was for his identical twin. (How did Tom die, by the way?) He’s so depressed when he has to go back to human form, and I got teary, too.

Even in the big battle, he and Neytiri still operate quite efficiently alone – they can’t watch each other’s backs; they’ve got too much to do. Often in fiction, characters seem to lose independence when in a relationship, but our two blue friends enhance each other’s lives – and separate, they’re not helpless.

In this film at least, James Cameron writes women better than he writes men – pilot Trudy is pretty damn cool, too, another great kick-arse woman. Neytiri is awesome from the get-go, but “the story belongs to the character who changes the most” (so I read somewhere), so sensibly Avatar is Jake’s story. His development is critical to connecting with other characters – and earning the audience’s respect.

James Cameron knows his archetypes, and the result is emotionally manipulative, damn it…

[REVIEW] 45 Master Characters – Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Victoria Lynn Schmidt
45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters
F+W Publications Writer’s Digest Books (US: 15th August 2007)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

In 2008 or earlier, I learned that character arcs were troublesome for me. In 2009, I requested titles of craft books that might help me, and Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s 45 Master Characters is a gem. It explains the difference between stereotypes (cardboard cut-outs) and archetypes (realistic characters), going into detail about the traits and flaws of each of the 45 archetypes, as well as examples. However, I don’t read classics, I watch only a few movies a year (if that), and my TV tastes are mostly animated comedies, so the examples here didn’t really connect.

It all sounds straight-forward, until I realised that my character has traits of two archetypes, which may double my work. And the sections on feminine and masculine journeys…there is a gender-bending example for each, but basically it seems to say that the more action-packed stories are masculine, and the more reactional ones are feminine. So while overall 45 Master Characters may seem like a feminist text, it still seems to pigeon-hole the so-called fairer sex.

Still, I’ve dog-eared many pages of this library copy, and have just ordered my own to keep.