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89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey into Mythic Models
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...
Published on May 19, 2004 by H. Grove (errantdreams)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Use with caution
This is an intriguing attempt to codify characters by using archetypes and in some senses succeeds. The categories - both heroes & villains and supporting characters - are considered and well described with plenty of good examples.

My criticism is that it can all get a bit proscriptive with the author laying the law down too much. Eg take her description of Mr...
Published on July 13, 2011 by Anvil Echoes


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89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey into Mythic Models, May 19, 2004
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (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. The author includes all sorts of information about the archetypes, from things they tend to care about, to which other archetypes they pair well with, and what their assets and flaws tend to be. Then Ms. Schmidt does more in the list of examples to break the stereotype worry than she does anywhere else. She includes examples from TV, film, literature, and history, so no matter what your reading or viewing pleasure, you should find something you can relate to.
Oddly, while the character archetypes are what sell the book, they turned out not to be the main attraction for me. There's a great section on supporting characters, for example. But best of all, roughly a full 95 pages of the book cover the feminine and masculine archetypal journeys. This is where things really take off and catch at the imagination. All in all, this book is interesting, useful, and well-detailed. If your characterizations could use a little help, this might be a fun place to start!
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpened my Characters Considerably, February 19, 2006
By 
Ray Salemi (Framingham, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 45 Master Characters (Hardcover)
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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96 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read & Have for Writers Everywhere!, September 4, 2002
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (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!)
Maiden (Persephone): think Rachel from Friends, Juliet from Romeo and Juliet
Troubled Teen (Persephone): think Ophelia from Hamlet by Shakespeare
MALE ARCHETYPES
Businessman (Apollo): think Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice, Jerry Maguire
Traitor (villainous Apollo): think Macon Leary
Protector (Ares): think Lancelot from Arthurian Legends, Romeo from Romeo & Juliet
Gladiator (villainous Ares): think Thor, Atretes from Francine River's `Mark of the Lion' series
Recluse (Hades): think Quasimodo, Beast from Beauty & the Beast
Warlock (villainous Hades): think Dr. Jekyll
Fool (Hermes): think Joey from Friends, Austin Powers
Derelict (villainous Hermes): think the Fool in King Lear by Shakespeare
The Woman's Man (Dionysus): think Nick Marshall in What Women Want, Will Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love, Jack Dawson in Titanic
Seducer (villainous Dionysus): think John Willoughby from Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
Male Messiah (Osiris): think Luke Skywalker, Martin Luther King, Ghandi
Punisher (villainous Osiris): think Malcolm X
Artist (Poseidon): think Jack from Will & Grace, J.D. (Brad Pitt) in Thelma & Louise
Abuser (villainous Poseidon): think Dr. Zhivago
King (Zeus): think Ricky Ricardo (I Love Lucy), King Arthur, Julius Caesar, Tony Soprano Sr. from The Sopranos
Dictator (villainous Zeus): think Captain Kidd, King Lear
As a note, the Messiahs (both male & female) are not based on Jungian philosophy; they are rather a very much needed addition from Schmidt, whose in depth look at these archetypes was phenomenal.
I hope that you can use this book as well as I've been able to!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best!, March 10, 2006
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (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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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Develop More Realistic Characters, February 25, 2002
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (Hardcover)
Fleshing out your characters can often block you from moving your story forward. "45 Master Characters" uses mythical models who all carry character traits common in today's fiction writing.
Each section details mythical heroes and villains. After identifying personality assets and flaws, each hero and heroine is placed into TV, film, literary and historical examples of popular figures.
For example, Apollo is called part businessman, part traitor. At the end of the chapter, Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) in Pretty Woman, Macon Leary in The Accidental Tourist and others are put into "real" character examples we can all understand.
Even tips on how to develop such characters are included. An over-controlling mother may hurt others for her own good. A recluse may be afraid of his emotions. A seducer may become a stalker if rejected.
In the back of the book, a brief feminine and masculine journey worksheet will help you develop deeper characters that matter to your readers.
From Captain Spock to Alex P. Keaton, Cleopatra to Kelly Bundy, all of the genuine traits that make us all unique will have you breaking through characterization road blocks.
Writers of all experience levels will find "45 Master Characters" to be a very handy reference. The information within is so interesting you could easily read it from cover to cover. But it's also broken up into easy to scan sections so you can find the personality traits you need to generate a realistic hero, heroine or supporting character.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing mind candy, October 9, 2005
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (Hardcover)
Excellent book. Gives insight into the masculine and feminine journeys. Perhaps the biggest shocker is in the Spiderman II movie, he goes through the classic female journey!

This book has it all. Eight Greek Gods and another eight Goddesses, both their positive and negative sides. Then the side kicks, four types of friends, six types of rivals, and three symbols, all of which can be positive or negative and even perhaps stealthly negative if openly positive. Then a complete analysis of the masculine and feminine journeys.

Some examples from Seinfield:

Jerry is "The King" positive trait of Zeus.

Kramer is "The Fool" positive trait of Hermes. Also "The Jester" a friendly rivel.

Newman is "The Nemesis."

George is "The Lost Soul."

The strength of this work is quite simple. It works. Greek mythology is based solidly upon good old human nature. If you step back and look at the Greek Gods of Mythology, they are all quite human, getting into human trouble with human failings.

This book will not hinder or limit you, it will free you. It provides outlines, very sketchy and variable. You can devote one sentance or 100 pages to a particular step of the journey, it's up to you and your story. Basing your charactors loosely on one of these Mythic Gods will bring a vague sense of reality and recognition to your charators, you just cannot pass up this book.

By the way, in the book I'm working on my heroine is a Gorgon, the negative aspect of the Goddess Artemis. By the end of her journey she will be the positive aspect, an Amazon. She will go through the masculine journey! Read up to see what this means.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Character Insight and Motivational clues, January 15, 2002
By 
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This review is from: 45 Master Characters (Hardcover)
I found 45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt to be very helpful in writing my novel because showed me how my characters' weaknesses and fears would hinder them. I had already built several archetypes, and having names for the type, either Greek Pathenon-oriented or descriptive, gave me handles to steer the plot where it needed to go.
One special feature of this approach is the delineation of the "Feminine Journey" as well as the "Masculine Journey". I wish I had had this resource when I wrote a paper comparing Joseph Campbell's _Hero of a Tousand Faces_ to Clarissa Pinkola Estes' _Women who run with Wolves_. I have used this approach in teaching my English classes especially with more "modern" stories that do not follow the hero path.
On a personal note, my friends and I have also sized each other up with the archetypes, and they have fit us very well. Anyone who is interested in archetype for teaching literature or in using archetype for writing fiction should check out this book. It is well worth the price.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loaded with character info, May 14, 2004
By 
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (Hardcover)
First, I have to say that without this book I would not have been able to create compelling personalities for my characters. I am now a soon to be published author.
Now onto the review. I've read other character books before but this book by far had the most information I could hang my hat on. You find out how your chosen character relates to his world, what his and her fears are, what their villain archetype traits are. You also get to study the hero and heroine journeys. This is a wonderful resource for beginning and established writers.
Fun tip: Watch reruns of "Friends", have 45 MASTER CHARACTERS next to you and match the archetypes. It's fun, addictive. Best bang for my buck, ever.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Use with caution, July 13, 2011
By 
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (Paperback)
This is an intriguing attempt to codify characters by using archetypes and in some senses succeeds. The categories - both heroes & villains and supporting characters - are considered and well described with plenty of good examples.

My criticism is that it can all get a bit proscriptive with the author laying the law down too much. Eg take her description of Mr Spock from 'Star Trek'. She claims he fits the 'Businessman' archetype, yet Spock suffers from none of the flaws she describes. Everyone's favourite Vulcan 'obsessed with his career'? 'identifies with aggressors'? 'perpetuates the cycle of violence'? All these would strike me as illogical, Captain, and untrue!

The author also makes some very bizarre assertions - such as 'most mothers cut their hair short due to lack of grooming time in the mornings with a baby around, unless they can afford a nanny'. What nonsense! I haven't got kids myself but all my friends who do have long hair... and no domestic help.

I'd certainly recommend this book to new writers, and it's worked as a good sounding board for ideas for me, but use with caution.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating Characters with Greater Ease, November 18, 2005
By 
Amy Cox (Las Vegas, NV, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 45 Master Characters (Hardcover)
I've had trouble creating depth in my characters for ages. It leads to the phenomenon Schmidt describes in her introduction: "A flash of inspiration has drawn you to the blank page as you eagerly pour out what you feel in your heart is a great story. Then somewhere along the way you start questioning whether your story is a really good story after all. ... Soon, in the midst of outlines and character changes, you give up and move on to another idea, only to repeat the pattern." This book has helped me break that very pattern. You may work these archetypes in two ways, either from the very start and basing your characters entirely on your archetypes, or by working it into previously planned works and using the archetypes to flesh out stick figure characters.

I now plow forward into my current project revitalized and confident that I have created strong characters that can carry a full novel on their backs.
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45 Master Characters
45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt (Paperback - August 15, 2007)
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