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45 Master Characters

55 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1582975221
ISBN-10: 1582975221
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Screenwriter Schmidt offers a book for writers struggling with characterization, emphasizing interesting, believable women characters. Looking to mythology for such types as Aphrodite, Artemis, and Zeus, Schmidt concisely outlines each type's cares and concerns, strengths and weaknesses, and likely reaction to common problems. She also gives familiar examples from TV, films, and books. For example, Sam Malone of Cheers is a "Joker," and the "Shadow" is all the terrified characters surrounding Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. Most blocked writers will find useful leads here, but debating the examples do Lucy Lawless and Sandra Bullock both qualify as Amazons? could easily become one of the better teaching uses of this book. Recommended for creative writing collections and workshops. Robert Moore, Parexel Corp., Waltham, MA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Victoria Schmidt is a screenwriter for film and television. A graduate of the film programs at UCLA and NYU, she holds a Masters degree in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount. She lives and writes in Los Angeles.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (August 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582975221
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582975221
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Victoria Lynn Schmidt, PhD PsyD is recognized internationally as a guru for the creative writer and is now becoming known as the voice for the creative soul in all areas of life and business.

While Victoria has been writing since she was 9 years old, she has been studying writing deeply for the past 10 years and uses her techniques and research in her courses at several major universities with much success. Some of her students have gone on to become bestselling authors and have won literary awards.

Unlike most writing books, her books are grounded in solid experimental work.

"I hope readers will realize how vitally important it is to think deeply about all of the decisions they are making when writing. Don't just set a scene in a coffee shop because that's the most logical place or how it's always been done... consider other options and see just how much more alive the scene will feel for it." Victoria Lynn Schmidt

She takes cutting edge research, connects it with ancient wisdom, and puts it in the hands and hearts of everyone who wants a successful high spirited life and career. Her Sound, Simple, Profound ideas help improve every area of your life. She also has a quirky sense of humor, an adventurous spirit, and a passion for helping shelter animals globally.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 97 people found the following review helpful By H. Grove (errantdreams) TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Victoria Schmidt was told in film school that scripts about female heroes didn't sell, and instead of meekly giving in she started doing research. She latched onto the woman's journey into the self: the tale of the descent of the goddess Innana. She connected this to such works as "The Wizard of Oz," "Titanic," and other stories and films, and decided a book was in order. Jack Heffron, editor of most of the writing books I've ever read & reviewed, said sure, but what about the male hero while you're at it? And thus this book was born.
Ms. Schmidt discusses the difference between a stereotype and an archetype. She talks a bit about individualizing characters using aspects of appearance, what the characters care about and fear, motivations, how others see the character, and so on. When providing examples of each archetype she deliberately provides a wide spectrum of possibilities so that you can see some of the variations that are possible.
My only problem here is that I can still see, having read through the book, how it would be easy to accidentally get trapped into creating stereotypes using these character archetypes. Why? Because many of our stereotypes are variations on (or simplified, judgmental versions of) these archetypes, and it's hard not to let all that history influence us. Perhaps if Ms. Schmidt had included an extra (small) section within each archetype reminding the reader to play with things, and including a few further suggestions and examples for how to do so, it would have allayed this fear.
The archetypes are quite detailed. Each has both a positive and a negative side.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Ray Salemi on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fiction is not reality. I had forgotten this when I was creating the characters in my current book. My characters were complex, but were not compelling. They were boring. They didn't interest me and would not interest a reader.

45 Master Characters fixed that problem for me.

For example, I had a character who is a woman trying to advance in a company. I had muddled ideas of whether she should be using sex to try to get ahead, how soft or tough she should be, and how she should think.

45 Master Characters helped me see that she fell into the category of the Father's Daughter. An archetype exemplified by Athena, Captain Janeway and Murphy Brown. Once I knew this I was able to see that she would not use sex to get ahead, that she would be fairly tough minded, and that she would be independent. I dropped a family from her backstory, removed any thoughts of her using sex to get ahead and generally tightened my picture of her. Ironically, my backstory included significant influence from her father, so I was already seeing glimmers of the "Father's Daughter" archetype before the book made it clear.

Schmidt gives us the positive and negative for each Archetype. For example the Father's Daughter has a negative side called The Backstabber (Katherine Parker "Sigorney Weaver" in Working Girl)

The book is an essential part of an author's reference library.
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98 of 108 people found the following review helpful By JK on September 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is hands down the best investment I have made in my writing career.
In a synopsis, Schmidt uses archetypes based on the Ancient Grecian gods to form two types of characters (good and bad). For instance, take Artemis. Her archetypes would be the Amazon (good) & the Gorgon (bad). With detailed descriptions for all characters, this book is a must for either identifying a current character's archetype, or creating a character from scratch.
Also included are friends (such as: the mentor, lover, best friend, magi), rivals (joker, nemesis, pessimist, etc.), and symbols, such as shadows, lost souls, and psychics. If you want more info on these, you'll have to buy the book!
If you're like me, you want to know what the archetypes (based on Jungian philosophy) are. I've enclosed a short synopsis:
Seductive Muse (Aphrodite): think Scarlett O'Hara and Emma Bovary
Femme Fatale (villainous Aphrodite): think Cleopatra
Amazon (Artemis): think Jo March (and Rose DeWitt Bukater-Dawson)
Gorgon (villainous Artemis): think Nikita
Father's Daughter (Athena): think Queen Elizabeth I
Backstabber (villainous Athena): think Lady Macbeth
Nurturer (Demeter): think Mary Poppins, Meg March
Overcontrolling Mother (villainous Demeter): think Nurse in Romeo & Juliet
Matriarch (Hera): think Monica from Friends
Scorned Woman (villainous Hera): think Mrs. Bennett (of Pride & Prejudice)
Mystic (Hestia): think Phoebe from Friends
Betrayer (villainous Hestia): think Blanche duBois
Female Messiah (Isis): think Monica from Touched by an Angel, Lady of the Lake in Arthurian Legends
Destroyer (villainous Isis): think Erin Brokovich (movie!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sheryl Constantino on March 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found this book more than helpful for writing characters. I have several books on this topic and this is one of the best that I have encountered. Each chapter is well organized and easy to understand. The author makes reference to characters in TV, film, novels, and history that most of us would recognize. Each chapter covers how the character should act, what his or her fears may be, how others perceive the character and gives ideas on how to develop a character arc. Each archetype is shown as a "hero" and as a "villain" with great detail given to each (and a summary at the end, in case you need to quickly reference). I found the information as a starting point to character creation. When discussing archetypes, I always see them as "shadows". What I mean is that they lack depth. However, you can take these and build to make original characters. To anyone who is interested in building more colorful characters and keeping them in character, I recommended this book.
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