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Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious Paperback – March 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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."
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is really interesting and I've enjoyed referring back to it quite a few times. I've always enjoyed the archetype discussion.Published on January 9, 2013 by Catherine Davin
Jennifer Van Bergen offers a writer's guidebook that includes description of the world where archetypes are formed, the means of accessing that world, how to glean the wisdoms of... Read morePublished on August 9, 2008 by Pamela J. Smith
In "Archetypes for Writers", Jennifer Van Bergen has created a practical guide that succeeds in helping writers and other artists challenge themselves on a number of levels. Read morePublished on October 8, 2007 by Brandon Batzloff
One of last year's films, Pan's Labyrinth, was acclaimed for its powerful story and images. Writer and director Guillermo del Toro has commented, "When you have the intuition that... Read morePublished on August 27, 2007 by Douglas Eby
Years of training in theatre and decades of teaching lends to the author's unique approach of how to utilize personal archetypes to fuel stories - and how to find such archetypes. Read morePublished on June 17, 2007 by Midwest Book Review
You might think that this book is just another retread of the Campbellian ideas popularized by The Hero's Journey, but you'd be very much mistaken. Read morePublished on May 18, 2007 by W. Thielemans
My brother and I are doing the exercises in each chapter and e-mailing them to each other for feedback. (He's a playwright and I'm a screenwriter. Read morePublished on May 17, 2007 by Amazon Customer