Books and Characters #IWSG

It’s August already. Can you believe that? I can’t. July passed by way too quickly, and now I’ve gotta figure out school stuff for my kids because that’s happening this month. There’s transitions I’m not ready for and scheduling I don’t know how to juggle yet. We’ll manage, I’m sure. But the impending event looms ahead and it doesn’t help my anxiety any.

What also doesn’t help is my lack of progress toward my massive rewrites. I completed one chapter in July. One is better than nothing, right? So what if I still have 60 more to go? At this rate it’ll only take me another 5 years to complete. *sigh*

But let’s get past all the doomy-gloomy stuff that makes me an insecure writer and talk about the question of the month.

IWSG Question of the Month – What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

When I read the first question, I immediately thought of 45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt.

Honestly, it’s not going to teach an experienced writer much. It’s my favorite because it’s the first book I bought when I began honing my craft. I loved looking at the different archetypes and figuring out how my characters fit–MaTisha being Zeus, the King; Cameron as Apollo, the Business Man; and Kaio as Athena, the Father’s Daughter. (I don’t adhere to the gender roles in the book.)

I struggled with Derek, though. I really wanted to slot him into Dionysus, the Woman’s Man archetype and even pushed him that way in book 1, despite it never really fitting him. I started to wonder if he wasn’t Persephone, the Maiden, with how often he got in trouble and how he always needed help to dig himself out. But even that didn’t quite match him and his motivations. What really defines him? His bad decisions? That’s a big part of it. But the driving force behind those decisions is almost always his family. His entire identity is wrapped up in them–his wife, his children–and there’s no length he wouldn’t go for them.

Looking at the archetypes again, I can see he’s Demeter, the Nurturer, which I find even more interesting given Demeter’s role in Greek mythology (the Olympian goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth). Derek becomes a key component in my world’s ecosystem, and he’s also one of the few remaining servants to a fertility deity.

It’s fun for me to see how my imaginary people fit into different roles. It’s the same level of joy one gets from taking a BuzzFeed quiz (probably the same level of usefulness too, if you already know your characters). And yet it remains one of the most impactful craft books for me. Would I recommend it to others? Eh, not really. But characters archetypes are fun if you want to check them out.

Are you surprised it’s August already? Are you more productive than me lately? What craft books have influenced you?

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You can find the sign up for the IWSG here. We owe Alex J Cavanaugh a huge thank you for thinking this blog hop up.

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

30 thoughts on “Books and Characters #IWSG

  1. Haven’t read that one (or many at all!) but I love archetypes, so maybe I’ll check it out. And hey, one chapter is better than zero chapters, so keep it going! (Those five years are going to pass regardless…)

    Good luck with sending the kiddos to school! It’ll be Halloween time before you know it πŸ™‚

  2. I knew there were basic plots but never considered basic characters. Forty-five is a lot to choose from!
    Don’t give up hope on those edits.

  3. Yes, one is better than nothing!

    Juggling school stuff is always tough but these days it’s tougher and can change everything.

  4. Awesome that you still like the first craft book you read. I still have some early ones I bought too and refer back to them. It’s hard juggling summer and then getting your kids ready for school. It’s great you got one of the hardest chapters revised. Others might go more quickly.

  5. That book would help me when reading submissions.

  6. I think the kids around here start back to school this week or maybe next. I can’t believe the summer is just about over. Although, it will still feel like summer here for another few months. Sigh.

  7. Yep. With epic fantasy comes epic rewrites. So much fun. One chapter may not feel like much progress, but it is still progress, and that’s awesome.

    I’m unfamiliar with the 45 master characters book, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy. And an excellent way to procrastinate on…things.

    Hope you get all the school stuff figured out. <3

  8. I haven’t read the book you recommend, but I want to try it. Character archetypes are always interesting, especially when I try to apply them to my own characters.

  9. I’m with you on the shock of it already being August. This year is going way too fast. I need to get moving if I’m going to reach my writing goals!

  10. Great post. I have a myriad of books on craft I love, but my favorite is still How I Write – The Secret Lives of Authors, edited by Dan Crowe. Happy IWSG Day!

  11. I’ve been stalled out on the revisions, too. I’ve actually reached the point that I’m thinking of going back and revising the other rough draft, instead. It’s not a great year for momentum.
    Happy IWSG Day!

  12. It sounds like an interesting book, actually. It’s fun to see how characters evolve as you create them, interact with them, and get to know them. I had to go back to book I of my PNR duet and tweak my MCs to fit the way they had fleshed out by book II.

  13. 45 Master Characters is a new one to me, ht it sounds neat. I like the idea of reading about different archetypes. It sounds like fun. Thanks for telling us about it!

  14. I’m not surprised it’s August, but I’m dismayed. Soon Summer will be over. πŸ™

    It can be unrealistic to take one month’s output and extrapolate it out over the length of a novel. We writers write in spurts, or at least I do. Whenever I have a good week or month of writing, it’s easy to convince myself that if I only keeping writing like that, my story will be finished in no time. Then I go a month without any progress and it brings me back down to earth. You’ll get there. Just keep plugging away at your story.

  15. Using archetypes when developing characters for your book is an interesting strategy. I’d never heard of that book before, so thanks for mentioning it here!

  16. I haven’t read that one, but I really like seeing how characters fit into different archetypes. I think writing fiction allows a place for one of my favorite activities–analyzing people.
    Good luck with all the transitions ahead!
    September is always my crazy month. I just have to try and keep my head above water with work and kids starting school. But it has it’s glorious moments too.

  17. I read this book years ago. It is fun to see how our characters fit into the archetypes.

    I am definitely not more productive than you lately. And personally, I think someone or something is cutting months out of the year. 🀣

  18. I haven’t read that one. For me, almost any character exercise is helpful and necessary! Good luck with the school year. Ours starts next week too, and it’s always a scramble to get back into routine. :s

  19. Archetypes can definitely provide insight into the writing process. Thanks for the rec!

  20. Despite all else, you posted for IWSG this month . . . and you are making progress, even if that progress is slower than you wish. I’m also working on developing characters and came across some interesting materials based on psychology, something about shadow selves (Maslow, Jung) that helps me understand the darker side of all my characters as well as what may motivate them. I have used the hero’s journey to organize my plotting, but I never thought about archetypes for those slippery characters! Thank you. May your writing go well this coming month.

  21. Hi,

    I haven’t heard of Victoria Schmidt but I have her now on my TBR list because I don’t think that any writing book is too basic for a writer. I can always learn something out of even the most basic book.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  22. Sarah Brentyn

    I’d never heard of that book. It’s a whole series–just spent time checking them all out. Thank you. (She says sarcastically.) πŸ™‚

    I know. I’m actively trying to avoid thinking about the upcoming school year and transitions and all that.

  23. One thing I’ve found is that when I’m not getting stuff done one day (or one month), I’ll have more than enough time to complete it the next day, week, or month. Some times you just need to focus on other things.

    I’ve never really taken to archetypes. I have a mental block on them, or something. I’ll have to check that book out and see if it helps me.

  24. Joleene Naylor

    I’m so behind on everything It will take me six years after I die to ever catch up πŸ™

  25. Yes Loni, certain books are for different junctures in our writing life. But some remain firm faves.

  26. I can’t believe we’re already in August. This year has flown by for me. Sadly, with not a lot of writing, but I do think having major surgery was a valid reason. πŸ˜‰

  27. Thanks for sharing your craft recommendation, Loni.
    Fall is just around the corner isn’t it?

  28. I’ve never heard of this book. Will definitely need to check it out.

    As to rewrites, *Hugs* that is tough. You will get through it. I find that giving myself a break and permission to work on something else for a bit recharges me and makes re-writes easier. If you’ve not tried that yet, maybe it will help you.

    My kiddo starts back next week and I am both excited and a bit daunted with the change in schedules so I feel ya!

  29. I’m totally shocked it’s August and almost the end of the month! My son is back to school and I’m catching up on stuff. I’m trying to teach myself to be productive in the mornings. It’s been all right this week, but it needs to be better. Good luck with your rewrites. I’m doing edits and slowly plodding through.

  30. Jennifer Lee Hawes

    I can’t believe it’s September:) Hope you are ready for the school year! One chapter is still a victory.

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