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Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious Paperback – March 1, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Inventive and unique, the subject matter is sure to appeal to anyone seeking alternative approaches to writing, art, or any creative pursuit. Thinking at the ""archetypal level"" will certainly be a helpful guide to those who want to convey their personal innery journeys through creative self expression. -- William Indick, Ph.D. ""Author of Psychology for Screenwriters""

About the Author

Jennifer Van Bergen was one of the first voices to raise the alarm against the PATRIOT Act with her six-part series ""Repeal the Patriot Act."" An adjunct faculty member of the New School for Social Research in NYC since 1993, where she recently taught their first course for undergraduates on the Antiterrorism Laws and the Constitution.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932907254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932907254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rachel Steuermann on July 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
It has now been about six years since I first signed up to take Jennifer Van Bergen's class 'Act to Write' - an earlier incarnation of Archetypes for Writers. The class was online and so I went into it without being able to meet Jennifer in person. At the time there was no book and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I certainly had no idea of the impact that this work would have on my writing and in fact, my life.

Immediately I found the material and the class to be riveting. We started with Character Facts and it became clear very quickly that I was not used to separating out what was observable in someone from my own subjective impressions. I was used to describing a person in terms that assumed everyone sees and thinks the way I do. Along with the humbling quality of this discovery, it was also a relief to realize that there was a truth to see when observing people - and that I was being given tools and a framework with which to find that truth.

After that class I went on to do advanced work with Jennifer, both in a small group and individually. I am so glad that there is now a book that encapsulates this work and makes it accessible in a way it was not before. The book is set up to guide the reader through the steps of acquiring the necessary tools and then learning how to use them. What also comes across loud and clear in the book is the generosity and excitement that is always a part of Jennifer Van Bergen's teaching method. You can almost hear her talking to you, explaining things and encouraging you.

Archetype work not only informs my writing - I read differently, I see people differently on the subway and in the grocery store. It is impossible to forget for one moment that everyone has a story. For me, that's where the life-changing part of this work comes in.
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Format: Paperback
Jennifer Van Bergen's unique perspective on the Archetypal realm reminds us that this universal domain is not the sole purview of psychoanalysts. Her professional expertise as a lawyer and a trained Shakespearean actor equips the reader with goggles both telescopic and microscopic, and her assignments challenge us to synchronize such extremes into a wonderful new visioning.

One caveat : For those like myself, Archetypally trained in old school Jungian ways and even older school Shamanic ones, this book would have proven more accessible had I started with Chapter Sixteen, Archetypes, which addresses these modes, and read Chapter Two, Skills & Exercises: Overview, as a Summary after working through the chapters. I found the front-loading of the book with JVB's new, somewhat arch terminology ("nos-anthroing," "isotyping," etc) a bit daunting, and don't believe I'd be alone in this.

So I write this review to encourage readers like myself, for whom such languaging proves cumbersome, to hang in there. And I imagine there are many others for whom JVB's methods will prove just the ticket to enhance not merely their writing, but their Self-expression with a capital "S," as she breathes new life into the universal discipline she re-names "Arkhelogy."
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Format: Paperback
The great jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler sometimes dismissed other musicians whose skills outran their motivations by saying, "He thinks it's all about the notes!" I thought of that as I read this book. This book is a guide, yeah, and it's a guide to creating characters in your writing, but it's not just about that. It's about a technical aspect of writing -- who are these figures that populate the work? -- but its emphasis for me is on something much deeper: Who are *you*? Right now, honestly. What is your history, what are your patterns, your habits, your loves and hates? Only if you can learn - and it must be learned -- to see yourself honestly can you learn to see others honestly. And by doing this you do nothing less than come to life, you wake up. Most of us, most of the time, are asleep.

This book helped nudge me out of that sleep, and may point me toward more consistent wakefulness, so that I might see myself without judgement, see others without judgement, and thereby come into a clearer vision of the world. It's that clarity that Van Bergen is so good at cultivating, all the while helping writers use that newfound clarity to help midwife an existing truth (the *characters* inside you) into the world. She uses terms that those who have read a lot of writers' guides or self-help guides might find strange, even uncomfortable. She writes plainly, and uncompromisingly, because finding your characters and helping make them real through writing them is a matter of life and death. It's not to be taken lightly; it *matters*.

Writing uses words, but in the end it's not *about* words. It contains characters, but it's not merely a field where some arbitrarily chosen personal attributes have been haphazardly thrown together to appear real. Writing is reality. And Van Bergen's book is, in the end, a guide for us to travel through that reality without losing our way.
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Format: Paperback
Where do your characters come from? Who are they? What do they want and why?

In the 3rd week of my Beginning Screenwriting Class at Seattle Central Community College I ask these fundamental questions of my students. And, well, often times they stare back at me, blank faced. They don't really know.

What about the characters in YOUR story? Where do they come from? Who are they? What do they want and why?

Before you start any screenplay, whether it's about talking sheep or space monkeys you need to ask yourself these fundamental questions. "Archetypes for Writers" gets you asking those questions about your characters. And, better yet, it gets you exploring your own mind.

"Archetypes for Writers is an approach to writing that enables writers to discover and use their own, intrinsic character and study archetypes." Writes Jennifer Van Bergen early in the book (page four) and then she goes on to includes six chapters exploring where all this comes from. This is then followed by a handful of chapters than include exercises on how this all works in a practical writer setting.

I had initial problems with this book as the first couple chapters are filled with all sorts of "new agey" type lingo: "Author Self" v. "Core Self," "Universes of Discourse," "Ectypes" and "Isotypes." You can get lost in these pretty quickly (which I did) and it may take a while to claw yourself out. But once you get to the exercises, that is where you master these skills.

First and foremost, you have to observe people. You have to explore. Go beyond the image to the core. What is it about them? What makes them tick? Your co-worker, the mail carrier, the barista?

Then it is a process of drawing them out.
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