Sometimes, you just can’t figure a character out.
Sometimes, most of your ensemble cast assert themselves in your head very clearly, and then there’s that one character who you can’t get close to.
Sometimes, your characters’ roles in the story are clear, their places in the world are obvious, and still their personalities escape you.
Today’s post is for those times. These are three quick, interesting ways to define characters for any work, regardless of genre. They can also help create groups of characters with diverse personalities, which naturally complement and conflict with one another. These archetypes can be applied to characters of any age, gender, race, species, vocation, time period, moral alignment or physical attributes, which is why I find them so useful.
I’ve arranged them from simplest to most complex.
1. Yin and yang
This dynamic is great for establishing contrast between two lead characters. You probably know that it’s based on the Chinese philosophy of dark and light: opposing dualities that are connected and interdependent. Though they are opposites, each can’t exist without the other and they balance, rather than conflict with one another.