Archetype [noun]

: The original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a  model or first form; prototype

: In Jungian psychology, a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally in individual psyches.


Understanding the Archetypes

The term ‘archetype’ comes from ancient Greece, meaning ‘original pattern’. Carl Jung expanded the idea, creating 12 core archetypes that he said are all part of our ‘collective unconscious’. That is, each of these 12 archetypes possess traits that are recognizable by all of us because of their universal character traits, which are part of the human psyche.

Jung’s theory was that there are 12 dominant archetypes. We each have a dominant  archetype, and that archetype defines who we are, how we behave, and our actions.

Each archetype is represented by a symbolic figure which encapsulates those specific archetypal traits.

For a writer, identifying the core archetype of your hero can help you keep their behaviors consistent. It boils down to using a collection of attributes that are easily identifiable to readers. The archetype is the foundation for the hero. From there, you expand to make them unique.

This WriterSpark series includes WriterSpark Cheat Sheets on each of the 12 archetypes. Click on each archetype to read more.


Jung’s 12 Archetypes

  1. Ruler

  2. Creator/Artist

  3. Sage

  4. Innocent

  5. Explorer

  6. Rebel (Outlaw)

  7. Hero

  8. Wizard (Magician)

  9. Jester

  10. Everyman

  11. Lover

  12. Caregiver

Download WriterSpark’s Cheat Sheet on Jung’s 12 Archetypes