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45 Master Characters, Revised Edition: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters Paperback – January 12, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1599635347 ISBN-10: 1599635348 Edition: Third Edition
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45 Master Characters, Revised Edition: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters + 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them + A Writer's Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, and Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Victoria Lynn Schmidt is an author, instructor, and authority on creativity. Her books for Writer’s Digest include 45 Master Characters, Story Structure Architect, and the best-selling Book in a Month. These three titles show readers how to hone their craft and reach their dream of writing a book or screenplay.

Victoria began her career as a screenwriter for film and television. She is a graduate from the prestigious film program at UCLA, holds a master's degree in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University and a doctorate in psychology. She also attended film school at NYU and studied independent filmmaking in NYC with some of the top artists in the field. She was awarded the Rocco Viglietta scholarship for creativity, a full Regents Scholarship to UCLA and she is a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society. She also teaches for several Universities including Tiffin University where she uses 45 Master Characters to explore cultural archetypes.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; Third Edition edition (January 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599635348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599635347
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Pink Hatter on July 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Without a doubt, Victoria Schmidt's revised edition of "45 Master Characters" is the best character reference guide I own. Not only does the book go into depth about the different archetypes like it promises, the book also gives you access to an additional 46th character you can download off of the Writer's Digest website, and it also has a chapter on creating plots. The book is divided as follows:

Part I: Getting Started
Part II: Creating Female Heroes and Villains
Part III: Creating Male Heroes and Villains
Part IV: Creating Supporting Characters
Part V: Creating Feminine and Masculine Journeys
There is also an index and appendix at the back of the book, the latter being quite useful if the reader/writer decides to follow Schmidt's advice on plot arcs.

The first part, Getting Started, is a short part, but also quite useful. Besides the author providing a clear distinction between archetypes and stereotypes, Schmidt also has a handy little character questionnaire. Normally, I'm not too keen when I have to answer questions like, "what is your character's favourite colour and why?" but the questions in the questionnaire are designed to help the aspiring writer see archetypal patterns in the character, which will help him/her define what their characters' dominant archetype is. She also has a list of motivating factors.

The next two parts of the book are real gems. They are PACKED with information on potential backstories for each archetype, character flaws, fears, motivations, how other characters might perceive this character (both positive and negative views), and more. I also love how the author made a "good side" of the archetype and an antagonistical side.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jake on October 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was really taken aback by this book, because it came highly recommended as a character building writing tool, but the truth is that this book is an exercise to see if the author can write enough words to sell a book. This is an updated version too, but I think the most recent reference is about the show Will and Grace. Come on. You would think that an author with as long a laundry lis of works as this lady likes us to believe she has wouldn't have to resort to repeating herself as much as she does to fill space. Her breakdowns are sparse, yet somehow all over the place, and in some places offputtingly and unnecessarily spiritual. I'm trying to learn how archetypes relate to creating characters that fit into just about any modern screenplay, and she describes several of her archetypes as being psychic, or interested in spirits, or inclined toward the occult. These descriptions, again, are just filler since they do nothing to guide the reader toward creating realistic characters. The book worked on me because I ended up buying it, which was the only purpose this author set out with. But heed this warning and don't make the same mistake.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Wright on December 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I purchased two books on archetypes over the past few days, this one (45 Master Characters) and The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes (Heroes and Heroines). I returned this book and kept the latter instead.

First, let me address the fact that 45 Master Characters claims to include information about 45 archetypes, while Heroes and Heroines claims to include only sixteen. This is misleading. Both books describe 16 archetypes for main characters, 8 being masculine archetypes and 8 being feminine archetypes. (Of course, all are adaptable for either sex, but the male and female archetypes are largely parallel anyway.) 45 Master Characters very briefly touches on an additional 29 archetypes for supporting characters, but these are touched on so briefly that they look a lot more like stereotypes than archetypes. In my opinion, if I want your supporting characters to be well-rounded (which I do), I'd apply the main archetypes to them and ignore the 29 others.

The sixteen primary archetypes addressed in each of these books are similar when the ones in one book are compared to those of the other. However, the versions of these archetypes on Heroes and Heroines have been modernized. In 45 Master Characters, each archetype is based on a mythological god or goddess, and they are described as being extremes, which those gods and goddesses are. 45 Master Characters presents some basic goals, fears, and character arcs for each archetype, but despite this, the archetypes still come across sounding archaic to me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Jacot on May 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You don't have to be a writer to find this book a terrific resource: Schmidt draws her archetypes from sources such as mythology and Jung, and they speak powerfully to the depths. I have gained insight into myself - strengths, flaws, potential, growing edge - by thinking about her character models.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aisling D'Art on July 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a superb reference for anyone writing fiction or BOTS (Based On a True Story) stories.

It's not an exciting book, but it's excellent for character insights... those little things you may not have included, which will make your characters memorable and three-dimensional. You don't need to follow the "master characters" as a formula, but for character nuances, motivation, and insights, this is easily the best book in the field.

I'm keeping this book on my bookshelf with The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition and 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them. These are among the books I double-check to be sure my story outline is complete. Otherwise, I may get to the middle, see it sagging beyond redemption, and... it becomes yet another unfinished book.

If you're developing characters, you need this book. As I said, it's not exciting reading, but it's essential.
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45 Master Characters, Revised Edition: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters
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