Apr 13, 2010

Build Characters with Jung

J is for Join 
Have you joined the Wagging Tales book giveaway yet? if not click on the link to enter:

J is for Jung.

Carl Gustav Jung is well known in literature for his creation of archetypes in his studies of psychology. The archetypes he describes are not types of people, but rather categories of characteristics, so one character could host several archetypes. These archetypes have been embraced by writers as a type of mould to begin with to build your characters and story. Christopher Vogler refers to these archetypes in many of his books and talks on using myth to structure your story.

Below is a chart I found at http://www.bethbarany.com (if you click on it you will get the full sized picture that you can print). I think this is great if you get stuck for characters, or more importantly a character's needs or desires. 

In the How To Think Sideways writing course I do, I am constantly asked, what does your character WANT? This is the drive for your story, they are after something, and an antagonist, the setting and circumstances will make it difficult for the MC to achieve what they want. By using the chart, you can work out what your character would want and how to make it hard on him/her.

You could also have a character arc from one archetype to another for example the 'Regular Guy' who wants to belong thinks he needs to connect with others, but when events force him to become an outcast, he may start to see his so called friends were not true at all, and he evolves to become the 'Sage' who would rather have honesty than popularity.

My protagonist in The Warracknabeal Kids will evolve from Outlaw/Jester to Hero/Caregiver. Can you see combinations that apply to your characters? Which ones would you use?


  1. Love the chart. I think Jung is amazing and figuring out human nature and our personality. I will go check out the site further.

  2. I've never seen this chart before - maybe I live under a rock. I love it though - thanks for sharing!

  3. This is awesome, Charmaine! I've never seen this before - it's like buried treasure! Have I told you lately that you rock?! :-)

  4. Nice post! I love Jung. One of my writing buddies here in SC is quite the fan of his and has shared a lot of the wisdom she's gleaned from poring over his work. Thanks for sharing this chart! Awesome!

  5. Thanks for the comments, I'm finding the simple ideas work the best, this chart was well designed - I would use it in the classroom as well.

  6. I am also a fan of Jung. Thanks for this chart!

  7. I like this post. Reading up on Jung is definitely a great way to mine for traits for your characters.