top of page
  • Writer's pictureDan

Using Mythic Archetypes to Evaluate Characters

Misty Mountains Copyright Dan
Misty Mountains Copyright Dan


I’m still reading Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, and I continue to be super impressed. Practically every page is chock-full of useful information that I am putting to immediate use. I just finished reading the section on mythological archetypes. I already find myself mapping characters to their appropriate archetypes. As Vogler points out, many characters can serve as multiple archetypes, either at the same time or at varying points in a story. Here are the archetypes:

  • Hero/Heroine – the protagonist of a story

  • Mentor – a teacher and/or protector of the hero, think Obi-Wan Kenobi

  • Threshold Guardian – an obstacle preventing the heroine from achieving her goals

  • Herald – a character that announces or forces change in the hero’s life

  • Shapeshifter – a character that is continually changing from the perspective of the hero

  • Shadow – a character that embodies the darker side of human nature

  • Ally – a character who helps the heroine achieve her goals

  • Trickster – a character who keeps the hero from losing his heads in the clouds, usually by taking him down a notch or two; a classic example is Loki from Norse mythology.

By mapping a character to one or more of these archetypes has helped me see how that character should interact with the characters around him. This helps create believable tension and conflict between characters who are friends or allies.

I must admit, when I first picked up this book I was a little bit skeptical. It is bigger and heavier than I like in a writing craft book. But, my perspective has certainly changed. If you haven’t read The Writer’s Journey, I highly recommend you do. You won’t regret it.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page