17 April 2013

R is for Roles In The Writer’s Dreamkit

Think about the roles of the characters in your novel. Do you have a balance in the types of characters you depict? I was curious about my own novel and poured over the plot to ensure I had a healthy balance of these types of roles found in Writer's DreamKit, a novel writing software application my husband purchased for me as a gift last Christmas.

The Protagonist – This is the character who will journey forward through crisis and change.

My protagonist, Kelly Cooper, definitely encounters crisis and she develops from a rebellious, down trodden detective into a fighter of justice for the dead.

Antagonist – This is the bad guy, and not necessarily the villain.

Though I have a serial killer on the loose in my novel, he's not clearly the main antagonist. Lyle Adams is an egotistical and proud detective who seeks to keep Kelly from performing optimally. He keeps information from her and he even lies when he has an opportunity to help her. The reason for his actions will be revealed later, but yes, he is definitely the main antagonist in Precinct 9.

Guardian/Mentor – This is the voice of change for the protagonist. This is the character who unveils the weakness in our protagonist and who challenges her to surpass her obstacles, driving her toward her goal (change).

Captain Grant Elliot, Kelly's new boss, is definitely the mentor in Precinct 9. He believes in her, even though all evidence indicates she murdered her ex-boss. He, at times, and without his knowledge, provides her with all the tools and opportunities she needs to fulfill her tasks. He has a duplicate role as the reasoning character, the one who takes action based on logic, not emotion.

Tempter – This is the character who sides with the antagonist. He also does not want the protagonist to succeed, though his reasons are completely different from that of the antagonist.  He and the antagonist do not have to team up, nor must they know each other.

The killer in my novel doesn't want Kelly to succeed. He'd rather her remain impotent,  keeping her from discovering his identity and bringing him to justice. He tempts her, in a fashion, leaving his digital prints all over the Internet. However, Lyle's antagonism stems from pure pride and ego, having missed opportunities in capturing the killer years ago.

Sidekick – The best friend, the loyal brother, the doting mother, they can all be sidekicks. This character is so close to the protagonist that they at times become frustrated and accrue angst over their loved one’s fate or future.

Do I have a sidekick? Yes. Kelly has Benjamin at her side. He is a large, Belgian Shepherd she acquired during her years serving as a K-9 handler. He's very loyal and protective over his master. He has a duplicate role as the emotion character, one which responds with feeling, whether angry or joyful. Can an animal character be an emotion character? They can in MY novel!

Skeptic – This character does not believe in the importance of the overall goal of the protagonist. The skeptic has her own goals and will protect those over those of the protagonist.

Kelly's mother is the main skeptic. She thinks Kelly needs to find a man and settle down. You know, have children. Kelly has no intention of continuing with the awkward, casual dates her mother insists upon. How else is she to find a man? Besides, men are scum. Read about the minor skeptic next.

I do have a minor role for another skeptic. It is Kelly's ex-boss. The reason she'd been transferred out of his precinct is because she had lodged a complaint against a fellow officer and the boss didn't want an embarrassing scandal on his hands. He eventually gets murdered, because skepticism has no place, long term, in my novel. His murder quickly becomes an obstacle for Kelly, since all evidence points to her as the suspect.

How many of these archetypes fall within your current work in progress? Which is your favorite archetype?

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