I’m very excited (and lagging behind) to say that I’m teaching a class over at LitReactor called ANATOMY OF ARCHETYPES. The class runs from 13-27 June. We’ll be looking as classical archetypes in stories and ways to undermine and subvert those archetypes to create new and compelling characters. Things we discuss will include Omar Little, Darth Vader, The Odyssey, hardboiled novels, Rooster Cogburn and more. This class will deal mainly in genre, but go across genre-bnoundaries, so no worries if you have one particular one you’re fond of. The class synopsis is below. You should make like the Deadites and join us. It’ll be fun.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing hardboiled crime or urban fantasy, space operas or western ballads: The most inventive plot will crack and disintegrate if there aren’t real and compelling characters supporting it.
These characters, though, are not just arbitrary attributes housed inside a shell. From Luke Skywalker to Phineas Poe to Hamlet, the most memorable figures in literature can be aligned with a character archetype. By studying these archetypes—their characteristics and their place within a plot—we can create characters that readers are able to identify with.
But, will this make the reader follow the characters into Hell? We need to make these characters real, living, bleeding people, and by exploiting the archetypes, by subverting and humanizing them with concise, evocative details, we can create the type of characters that a reader will follow into whatever shadowed alley, extraplanetary prison or damned castle in which their dark fate lies.
This class will focus on genre fiction, which has long been ghettoized by the literati for being formulaic and poorly written. There are several reasons for choosing genre, the least of which is showing why this notion is not accurate.
First, there are as many genres as there are ways to dispose of a body. This is important because each genre has their own tropes and expectations, ones that we will learn to subvert and combine with other genres to create surprising and original tales in a variety of settings.
Second, genre fiction tends to have the most obvious character archetypes, for better or worse, and this will allow us to analyze, deconstruct and rebuild them into more fully-realized people that will work as easily in a noir melodrama as a dystopian western.
Finally, many stories in these genres are fueled by the desire for power or love, an impulse that impacts almost every action in every aspect of society.