I Vant To Steal Your Character
Or at least a piece of him or her.
What? You don't drool over Erik Hakkonsen? You haven't mentally worked out Ranger's and Diesel's back story? You don't wonder what Evon Vorhalas might have done if he could have walked away and started over somewhere else?
And Professor Yates. Oh yes, I wants him. I know I'm not his type, but he such an excellent absentminded professor, I couldn't possibly write a better one myself.
Really, I am so glad I'd already written a bunch of my own characters before I met some of these people. My characters are very much my own. But sometimes I trip across a character who succeeds in being the character I was trying to write. Modesty Blaise. Harry Dresden. Bahzel Banackson.
Some times it's just a name that catches my attention. The dreaded Pierre "Le Sanguinaire" Vorrutyer. What would he be like, to have such a reputation?
An awful lot of the characters I most remember are classic archetypes. Dark Heroes, Absentminded Professors, Cool Chicks in black bodysuits, Barbarians with big swords.
Should we avoid the archetypes when we build our characters? Or take advantage of the universal recognition? Or does our personal piece of the Collective Subconscious ensure that we can't not use the old tried and true types?
And what do you do when you find someone who has already written the sort of character you're writing? Deliberately change your character? Change just enough that you don't think half your readers will think you're writing fan fic? Just curse the other writer and blast on ahead?
One of my fantasy world's magic rules are that the more magic a person is, the more in touch with the collective subconscious they are. The most powerful magicians are controlled by same. So I started listing all the archetypes and stereotypes so as to inflict them on Characters. Great fun, but the list is surprisingly extensive. Especially if you have fun with it. My favorite is the God of Just Deserts. He's got a mile wide field of Instant Karma, except when he's depressed. Then it's ten miles wide. Cities bribe him to go away.
Now, we all know that Dave not only uses, he abuses, the archetypes and stereotypes.
How about the rest of you? Which of your own creations is your favorite? Is he or she any sort of archetype?