Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Int. Small theater. Day.
Audience seats are empty. Twelve people are on the stage, sitting in the circle. Lights are on them. The class is about to begin. PROFESSOR comes in and says they are going to play an interesting game today. “Open your notebooks please, I am going to ask you ten questions and you can write your answers down,” he says. So, the first question is: “Who am I?” Ask yourself who are you and write it down.
(I strongly encourage you to play this game now as well!)
I write down without thinking: I am a storyteller.
Students wait for the second question. Professor asks:
Who am I?
I smile, maybe he made a mistake. But the others are already writing…
I write as well: A woman. I think… And actually, I really love that I am a woman, I like when I discover myself as a woman, which at the very same time means I also love when I discover and learn about men.
Next question: Who am I?
I am a human being.
Interesting game. Some people now think before writing.
Who am I? When I am really alive?? When everything makes sense. When I am in love.
A lover. I am a lover.
Fourth question, the professor asks:
Who am I?
Who am I really?
Well, I suffered a lot as a kid; my parents fought a lot… they divorced later on. Till this day I often fight with my mom. My brother was and still is my best friend.
Fifth question: Who am I?
“Is it boring yet?” the professor asks… “NO,” we say… actually now it’s becoming interesting.
What really defines me on a deeper level?
Fifth answer: A daughter who was fighting or a granddaughter who was playing. My grandparents were so exceptional, my grandma was a person I could tell everything to, and she really, really thought I was special.
Now some students are smiling. They already know what the next question is.
I answer: Animal lover. Connecting with animals on a deeper level. Just enjoying life.
I answer: Traveler. Getting to know people and cultures on a deeper level.
I answer… Wounded Healer.
I answer: A Teacher…
I answer: I believe that the Universe is wise and loving. I am a truth-seeker.
I answer: I think stupid people are annoying. (And I am afraid that if I say this out loud, people are going to judge me and not love me. I like when people love me… Am I proud of that???
Who I am, what am I really proud of? I am a friend. I am a good friend I think.
Who am I not and would like to be? I am not a mother…
This game could now go on and on, but you get the point.
We are what we love, what we do, what we think, what we are searching for, what we are afraid of, which means we are relational beings. We play roles in other people’s lives. They play roles in ours. And the annoying or the interesting part of this is that the roles we are playing for them, maybe they play for someone else.
Some people are our friends and they help us, others directly oppose us, some we love… and some cheat on us, but some also give us guidance.
So, you see, when you answer the question of who you are, you will also have a list of the most important people in your life. We can’t be alone in this world. We can find who we are only in the mirror of others.
Apply that same game for your PROTAGONIST, and you will get a list of other character archetypes or basic archetype functions of your story.
And I remind you to look at all the archetypes both as symbols of identity, and a process of becoming the one, always think of them in relation to each other– simply put you cannot have a teacher without a student.
Relationships are opposites and opposites are relational.
On this point, you can also draw a psychological map of a story.
In theory, we say that there are five primary character archetypes that appear in most movies.
Last time we spoke about the Protagonist and Antagonist (Shadow or Nemesis).
This week think about:
Attractor. Who does he/she love? A person who is going to help your protagonist to grow emotionally. (Romance)
Mentor. Who can your protagonist learn from?
A person who knows more than your protagonist and who can provide essential wisdom to your protagonist, because they were once in the protagonist's shoes. They help the protagonist with intellectual growth.
Trickster or a Fool – Who can test your protagonist