Monday, 25 April 2011

A Muse on Aesthetics and Character Archetypes

I think we all end up having a preferred 'type' when it comes to the opposite sex. Of course, it's not exactly a concrete thing; my mother admits that my dad is the complete opposite to her 'type'; but we do have our own preferences when it comes to looking for a relationship. I think it applies to friends as well. You're looking for specific things in people you become friends with. If you don't gel with them, the friendship ain't gonna work.

But this post isn't about that. As well as having preferences in people, I think a lot of writers have preferences in the characters that they write. In fanfiction especially, since you're not going to write a character you don't identify with or find appealing in some way. At least, I know I wouldn't.

Me? I'm fairly easy to please. And since I wanted to write a post today, but wasn't entirely sure on a subject, I decided to do a basic run-down of my favourite character types.

Sort of like a bait and switch personality type deal.
When I'm writing female characters, I don't want them straightforward. A normal, well-adjusted character is all well and good, but where's the fun in that? Besides, I'm not exactly normal or well-adjusted myself, what with all my weird tendencies. And you know what they say; write what you know, and I have some notable tsundere traits.

The tsundere is the girl (occasionally a boy, but not often) that runs hot and cold, usually on the boy she likes. Naturally, this means that I get to have way too much fun stringing out relationship developments. She'll spend the whole time swinging wildly between bitching him out and acting all cute and shy because he did a nice thing. But it's not because she likes him or anything, okay?!

My favourite tsundere character to write is an aged-up Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls. I write her as extremely uptight, and constantly checking herself to make sure she's doing the right thing. And of course, I'm writing her opposite her Rowdyruff Boy counterpart Brick, who is clearly not the type of boy a good girl like her would ever go for, and it drives her nuts. As a result, she finds herself trying to be as cold as possible, but letting it slip when she forgets who she's dealing with and actually lets herself have fun. Ridiculously great fun to write.

They annoy you, but you're sorry that their life sucks so much.
As much as I have great fun writing tsundere characters, I tend to drift back to these ones. Where the tsundere has a temper on them, but is still well suited to light-hearted pieces, these are better for darker stories. A woobie is meant to elicit sympathy, but the jerkass woobie is the one you want to punch in the face and then give a hug to. They try to be unlikeable, either because they don't like people because of whatever tragic backstory they have or because they're just broken in some way.

Again, the Powerpuff Girls is where I tend to write these. Buttercup is just this character all over, at least when I write her. Buttercup, for me, is a prickly, uncomfortable teenager, and as such, shoots her mouth off, swears like a sailor and is very prone to completely losing it, usually in a violent sort of way. She doesn't want sympathy, so she does everything she can to avoid getting it, but at the same time, I write her tragically broken. I'm awful to my favourite characters, I really am. I just abuse them mercilessly.

Self-loathing and unrequited love issues ahoy.
The broken ace is my favourite for male characters. They're strong characters, but they have some sort of crippling issue or set of issues that have messed them up badly. Oddly enough, I don't write these often myself, but they're some of my favourites to read or watch.

Illidan Stormrage up there from the Warcraft series is a wonderful example of one of these. Exceptionally gifted at magic and an almost unrivalled demon hunter, he's obsessed with becoming strong in order to win the heart of his childhood friend Tyrande Whisperwind. Except that she's in love with his twin brother, and she's really not into the whole 'almighty displays of destructive magical power in order to prove my love' sort of thing. He... really doesn't take it well, and despite the fact that he's... well, he's evil by the end-up, there's no way around that, he's still exactly the kind of character I find appealing. He's awesome, but tragic, and there's a love triangle in there too. Not that he ever really had a chance there, but he likes to think he did.

Maybe it's just my innate romantic tendencies coming out. I just have a soft-spot for losing characters in love triangles I suppose. Except when it's Final Fantasy VII, but that's a whole other bag of gerbils that we won't go into right now.

Of course, I write character types other than these, and I'm not even scratching the surface of the many different character archetypes there are, but I'm also lazy and this post has taken long enough as is.

I'm not a very good blogger am I? :P


  1. Loving your reference to Illidan... I wish to point out that he's been a shade on the dodgy side since... The War Of The Ancients?

    And It could easily be argued that he isn't evil these days. Simply an Amoral Sociopathic Megalomaniac. I blame being blinded and locked underground in a cell for TEN THOUSAND YEARS...

  2. Well, no, he's not evil these days since as of the end of The Burning Crusade, he's canonically dead.