“You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own world.”
– John Rogers
Characters are the life of any story. When writing a hero or heroine, it’s important to give them traits that fit your storyline. The characters discussed in this post have a strong sense of commitment. They are go-getters in the roller coaster of life. They have goals to achieve and nobody gets in their way. We all have seen or heard of these types of people. They are self-driven, remarkable people that never work a day in their life because they passionately do what they love. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
THE BOSS (HEROINE)
Let’s take a minute to think of movies and literature. Who has been portrayed in this role? One example that comes to mind right away is Claire Underwood on House of Cards. She is self-driven to run her own business, not letting anyone else get in her way. When Frank (her husband) becomes president of the United States, she has to play hardball and isn’t afraid to do it. These are characteristics of the boss. Each one of us knows at least one strong woman in our lives in our lives that fit this role.
So what else characterizes the boss? First, this heroine is all about reaching her goals. This fact alone is what motivates them. They don’t care who they step on to climb the corporate ladder; they are going to get that promotion. They don’t care who they have to cut out of their life to achieve a goal as long as it gets done. Failure does not exist to them. In their world, failure is not in a realm of possibility.
Rather, the heroine is in control of her surroundings. She has a stronghold on what’s to be expected and sets a higher standard for everyone else. When she loses control, this is when she may feel vulnerable, awkward and fearful. The boss does not like leaving anything up to chance. This dynamic trailblazer is often the matriarch of her family. There is nothing she loves more than a house full of kids. The family is her soft spot when she’s not overwhelmed with work-related tasks.
Finally, throughout life and stories, this character is often high, prestigious positions. It’s common to see them working as a mayor, prosecutor or a pilot. They are often workaholics, putting nothing else above work except family. These women, too, are quick to make decisions. They may not realize how blunt or arrogant they sound to others. In their mind, their deadline is the most important. Deadlines of others fall way down the list–if it’s on the heroine’s list at all.
THE CHIEF (HERO)
Next, we have the chief. Examples of the chief might be any of John Wayne‘s movie roles. This hero is tough on the exterior. He’s decisive, goal-oriented and successful. It also means, however, he has the ability to be overbearing and inflexible towards others. Similar to the boss, the chief is not afraid to step on toes to get to the top. He is a born leader, often holding positions such as a CEO or a nation’s president.
This hero is used to always being in charge. In fact, he may spill this over into his home life. He is considered to be a workaholic, so it’s not surprising he would have a home office. This archetype may even find it difficult to leave the day’s work at the office, bringing office politics home to the bedroom.
When put to the test, this hero is quick to act. They are quick-thinkers on their feet, not letting stress get the best of them. In a crisis, however, this hero can be counted on to save the heroine. He is confident as he faces the opposing evil force. While he’s involved romantically with the heroine, he may struggle with keeping in tune to his goals. He may feel he’s made a mistake by becoming romantically involved–but she’ll never know. He keeps it all internalized.
So, whether you’re writing the boss or the chief, follow a few basic guidelines. Make them strong on the exterior. Give them ambition, determination, and perseverance to achieve anything. And, you may want to put them into the face of conflict to challenge their goals. It’s going to make some good storyline if written well.
THE SEDUCTRESS (HEROINE)
And lastly, we have the seductress archetype for heroines. This strong and powerful female character will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Manipulative and selfish, her perception of the world around her is quite narrow-minded. She is often self-driven to get that new job promotion, not stopping to care who she shoves out of the way. This character is also rough around the exterior. They might’ve had the not-so-picture-perfect childhood or adult years which makes them standoffish to those around them.
But, it’s important to note here that this character sees them as a survivor. Whatever that has been through, they have come through on the other side. If you’re looking to write a character that is strong and independent, then this might be one to look into further. She will not only look conflict in the eye but fight it. This not a character that easily backs down.
These are only a few character archetypes out there. Throughout the course of this blog, we’ll cover much more. Pick and choose which ones work best for your story. It’s always fun to try different archetypes on characters. If one archetype doesn’t work, there is always another.