If Character Archetypes Were Cupcakes

I love cupcakes, especially those fantastically decorated concoctions you find in bake shops all over the place nowadays. They’re selling like hotcakes. ha. All kinds of colors and flavors. And like crayons and paint come with some pretty imaginative names. On a short shopping trip last winter I discovered a mall kiosk called Once Upon a Cupcake. I snacked on the Snow White, a delicious coconut topped vanilla cupcake. But I could have had Prince Charming.

What if we created our own designer cupcakes based on Character Archetypes? However we develop our characters, whatever methods we use, they are the most important part of any story. The Archetypes mentioned here come from Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop. Any well developed character is multifaceted. But everything is based on something. We decide the why.

Chase Porter – The Warrior Archetype – Salted Dark Chocolate topped with Silver Icing.

The WARRIOR: a noble champion, he acts with honor…

Lily Wheeler – The Nurturer – Raspberry Vanilla with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pink Sprinkles

The NURTURER: serene and capable, she nourishes the spirit…

Seth Stone – The Lost Soul – Black Forest Cake topped with a Chocolate Mousse Icing

The LOST SOUL: a sensitive being, he understands…

Kate Logan – The Boss – Lemon Meringue with Lemon Butter Cream Icing

The BOSS: a real go-getter, she climbs the ladder of success…

Caleb Quinn – The Charmer – Caramel Apple Flavored Cupcake with Chocolate Mouse Icing

The CHARMER: more than a gigolo, he creates fantasies…

Sophie Monroe – The Crusader – Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Butter Cream Icing

The CRUSADER: a dedicated fighter, she meets her commitments…

Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop is worth checking out. Also, check out this article to delve into character archetypes from a different angle.

Do you have a favorite type of hero? Heroine? What cupcake would you choose?

Romanticism and The Hero

The Romanticists did not present a hero as a statistical average, but as an abstraction of man’s best and highest potentiality, applicable to and achievable by all men, in various degrees, according to their individual choices. Ayn Rand  The Romantic Manifesto

I don’t pretend to know a lot about Romanticism or the Romantic Era, other than quoting Thoreau or Emerson on occasion and I doubt that counts as knowledgeable. And it’s been a couple of decades since I’ve read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I haven’t read anything of hers since, although I have always wanted to read The Fountainhead. But this quote came up when I was researching heroes and it spoke to me.

If it means what I think it means (and that’s not always guaranteed), it’s speaks to the essence of character. It’s about being true to your purpose and moving forward despite obstacles or because of them and how that is represented in late 18th century and early 19th century in art, literature and philosophy.

She goes on to write:

If man possesses volition, then the crucial aspect of his life is his choice of values—if he chooses values, then he must act to gain and/or keep them—if so, then he must set his goals and engage in purposeful action to achieve them. The literary form expressing the essence of such action is the plot. (A plot is a purposeful progression of logically connected events leading to the resolution of a climax.) Ayn Rand The Romantic Manifesto

From hero to plot, internal to external conflict. I like it. I think that’s what it means to be romance hero or heroine of today. Purposeful action in defense of one’s values and beliefs. As a romance writer it’s important to note that the unrealistic muscled fantasy hero we are often accused of creating is really symbolic of their inner strength of character. Though they have flaws and are guilty of making wrong decisions, they try to make it right. That’s my kind of hero.

Of course, I’m not going to complain if they happen to look good naked! What are your thoughts?

Introducing My Hero Chase Porter

Welcome to hero week! Yesterday I shared my Alpha Male Toolkit. All those qualities and attributes that make a great romance hero.

“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed.”  Peter S. Beagle

Constable Chase Porter is dedicated to his job. He has put everything he has into his career, and used that career to elude thinking about the past. Now he finds himself back in Aspen Lake. He’s back on track to catch an illusive gang leader. Too bad that path leads him directly to the one woman he wants to avoid.


“What are you doing here?” Her fingers tightened around her cup, and the resulting pop from the pressure filled the small space. She glanced back at the door, all confusion, and he knew she was hoping for some kind of intervention. For someone else to join them, anyone else.

He stalled and took a second to settle his arms on the tabletop. He pushed at the file and offered her an anemic look of confusion. “Here?”

“Yes. Here. In this room. In Aspen Lake. In the parking lot of my school.” She spread her hands out and motioned around her. “Here!” She averted her gaze and inhaled a deep breath before spotlighting him, apprehension darkening her eyes, deepening the blue color.

“My job.” To him, it was that simple.

“Your job?”

“I’ve been transferred to the Aspen Lake detachment.”

“You’re a cop?” Her look of skepticism said it all. The air of disbelief pricked at his ego. He shifted in his chair. Like all the times in fifth grade when his teacher, Miss Carlisle, had asked him why he had no lunch. Had asked questions about his father.

“Is that so hard to believe?” He had worked his ass off to get where he was, and he was a damned good cop. The work he did with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, and his reputation, proved his dedication to his job. None of which she’d be aware of, or care about if she did. When he burnt a bridge, the only thing he left behind was ash.

You can now order a print copy of Backlash from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon. Ebook format coming on June 1st.




What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves…



Interviewing Characters

One way of getting to know your characters is, of course, the character interview. Besides being useful it has the added benefit of being tons of wicked fun. Not only are you learning things about your character’s thoughts by being deep in their point of view, it’s a excellent opportunity to torture them a bit.

I happened across this interview I did a while back involving my hero from my upcoming release, BACKLASH. It was part of a series of exercises I participated in with my writing group. It was so much fun and since my scheduled interviewee is working through computer problems I thought I’d post this instead. 

For the purposes of this exercise we were to chose a point of view character and answer the following: Why don’t you start by telling us your name and if you go by any nicknames? Then, if you could tell us, do you have a birthmark and if so, where? Any scars we should know about? How did you get them?  

So without further ado, meet Chase who’s about to be interviewed by select members of the Saskatchewan Romance Writers via computer. FYI, he looks a lot like Jensen Ackles. 

Chase stood in front of the stark white door with his hand resting on the doorknob. He turned to watch the English guy make his way down the hallway. The poor guy had the look of a man pecked to death by ducks. The only other guy he’d seen had rushed past him looking a little green around the edges. He pitied some poor woman named Janet.

He’d been ordered to put in an appearance. Answer a few questions. They had better get what they wanted the first time around because his plans did not include a return visit. A guy had to draw the line somewhere. He pulled a worn photo out of his back pocket, ran a thumb over the picture then carefully slid it back into place.

He opened the door and stepped into the room. Not a soul in sight. He scanned the room for cameras or two-way mirrors and found nothing. The room boasted one standard issue office chair, an ordinary metal desk and a computer. He eyed the screen. Blank. His spidey sense started to tingle.

“Please, sit down.”

Okay, disembodied computer voice. That wasn’t weird at all. He walked over and planted his butt on the hard plastic seat. He leaned back, placed an arm along the back of the chair, and rested one booted foot across a knee. Never let them see you sweat. This wasn’t so bad, really. He could deal with it. He’d handled worse.

“For the purposes of this interview we will be communicating via computer. We will ask you questions and you will answer to the best of your ability. Your answers will be evaluated and ranked for optimum effectiveness. Failure to answer truthfully will lead to complications in your storyline and may result in a state of celibacy for the hero, which in this case would be you.” Static. “So, are we clear on the rules?”

“Perfectly.” Great, a computer was in charge of his sex life. He straightened up a little and shifted his gaze slightly to the right, in the direction of the door. A little red light blinked on the small security panel beside the door.

“It’s locked.”

No way out. He ground his back molars together. He knew he should have worn his uniform and his gun. “Let’s get this over with.”

“By all means, let’s.” The computer sighed and a small sliver of satisfaction snaked up his spine. “State your name for the record please.”

“Constable Chase Porter.”

“Well, Constable Porter, any nicknames we should be aware of?”

“No.” One question down.

“How odd.” Something squawked in the background. Someone muttered something about marketability. “Shh,” the computer voice hissed. “Do you have any interesting birthmarks?”

“No.” Birthmarks? He shifted his weight and the chair creaked. Maybe he was being punked?

“How long have you been a police officer?”

“About six years.” He didn’t trust the question, it was too simple. He glared at the computer.

“Do you enjoy your work?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Did he enjoy his work? What the hell kind of question was that? It wasn’t like he could imagine doing anything else.

“Care to elaborate? And please be advised you’ve used up your quota of one word answers.”

“The job has its moments. I like to think I make a difference.” He zeroed in on a crack snaking up the wall behind the computer and focused all his energy on the narrow line. He could do this. He could answer a simple question without ending up in a blood soaked alley.

“How about scars?”


“Do you have any scars? Surely the question is self-explanatory?”

He frowned, what happened to questions like on a scale of one to ten, one being lowest suck factor and ten being highest suck factor, how would you rate this interview?

“Do bullet holes count?” Maybe if he shocked them all the way down to their sensible shoes they’d cancel the rest of the interview.

“Thankfully something we can work with. They sure do, hon. Feel free to elaborate.”

He rubbed his thigh. No. Way. In. Hell.

What’s the weidest or most inappropriate question you’ve been asked in an interview?


Heroes and Bonnie Tyler

Oh look, it’s the eighties all over again. If you’ve been shopping for clothes you’re likely already aware. Bright colors are spilling out of the stores. Granted, I discovered this while shopping with my teenage daughter, so they were her stores not mine…but still. There may be some neon in my future. We do love our flashbacks!

Which makes me think of music. And who doesn’t think of the songs from the ’80’s without thinking about Bonnie Tyler? Who, by the way, is busy recording a new country/rock album. Because, who isn’t these days?

But back in the ’80’s she was Holding Out For a Hero and asking;

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?

Picture loafers with no socks. Mascara. And lots of hair gel. Miami Vice? Don Johnson?

Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?

How about Blane from Pretty in Pink with his turned up collar and his baggy blazers?

Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream
of what I need

Which makes me think of Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. Although she had the opposite problem, all she had to pick from were Neanderthals.

And then we come to…

It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet.

At the very least a G.I. Joe. Or Indiana Jones.

All she was left with was an eclipse, a really bad heartache, and nothing’ but a fool’s game.  I can’t wait to hear what she has to sing about in the twenty-first century.

So, flat iron or big hair? How about leggings and wedge heels? Where do you stand on the all important issue of skinny jeans?

Costume Changes

We all have a personal style. A way of putting things together that makes us unique. We all have a closet containing items we love, the one’s that boost our confidence. Those articles  of clothing that make you stand a little taller or sit a little straighter. Then we have the casual stuff. Maybe even the quirky. The pieces we need to make up our work wardrobe. Because of course I’m sitting here all nicely showered and dressed to make the most of my day. Not planted in front of the computer wearing a monstrous, seen-better-days, black cardigan and wrinkled pajamas.

Because that closet also contains the not so great choices. The cast-offs. The clothes that somehow shrunk in the wash and are now a bit tight. That rockin’ outfit from the eighties you’re hanging on to for no good reason. We do always dress perfectly. We all succumb to stop-and-grab shopping. Stacey and Clinton aren’t on hand to be our personal shoppers whenever we need them. If they were I’d never waste another dollar on stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time. We have good days and bad days and -there’s-not-enough-time days.

Just like our characters.

Some of my favorite fashion quotes from TV characters.

 “I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.”  Carrie  Bradshaw, Sex and the City

“I get up at dawn to look this good!” Mimi Bobeck, The Drew Carey Show

“I say go with black. It makes you look all villainy.” Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries

“Oh, no! Hipster. No. Do not think we are on the same team, we have nothing in common. I wear knit hats when it’s cold out, you wear knit hats because of Coldplay.” Max, 2 Broke Girls

When it comes to creating a character’s personal style it’s not only fun but necessary to emphasize personality. Every one of the characters quoted above can be considered over the top. Not only by what they say and how they act, but how they dress. Their style reinforces their personality. And a character’s style can change to enhance the advancement of the plot or the help showcase their character arc. Like us humans out in the real world, characters have their good days and their bad ones, often in extremes. How they dress or put themselves together can help reflect their state of mind.

Which takes me on a little detour into costume design? Besides the obvious fact of characters having to wear clothes and having those clothes be appropriate to the story and setting, I didn’t know  a lot about the process. I’m still a rank amateur. But I’ve picked up a few hints watching bonus reels.

Example: The 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice – The costume designer spoke about Mr. Darcy’s wardrobe and how uptight and buttoned up he was at the beginning of the movie. How they gradually loosened him up in terms of wardrobe choices and fabrics to reinforce the changes to his character.

Makes sense, right?

The following quote is taken from The Secret Lives of Costumes. It’s a great look into the world of costume design.

“I take my cues from the characters and their surroundings as written in the play, as well as from the stylistic choices of the production. In the same way that an actor builds upon the framework of traits and actions of his or her character in the story, I read what the character does and says for clues about what they might wear. I also need to think about how best to reflect a character’s evolution through the development of the story. Sometimes the character is best served by creating contrast between how a character behaves and what he or she looks like.”  Judith Bowden, Canadian Designer

It’s something to think about when creating characters. Or during the editing process when you’re busy adding in the interesting bits and quirks. We need to think about style in terms of character development, even if it’s not obvious or part of the plot. We all know Eliza Doolittle undergoes a transformation in My Fair Lady. Usually it’s not that obvious in terms of wardrobe. Using subtle changes can make an impact, too.

My current work-in-progress, Off the Grid, is a romantic suspense novella. It will probably end up around 25, 000 words. That’s not a lot of time. Every costume change counts. Dr. Sophie Monroe is a dedicated physician and activist. She doesn’t give a lot of thought to her fashion choices. Caleb Quinn has just been named one of Canada’s Top Lawyers Under Forty. He dresses with purpose and is impeccably groomed. it’s my job is to show how things fall apart and how they put them back together again. By reading up on costume design I’ve learned a few tips and techniques I can apply to the written word and how I can use it to emphasize these changes.

Do you love a certain TV character’s style? Have a favorite costume from a movie? Use wardrobe changes as a tool in your own writing?


I Do Love a Man in a Suit

You know how they say a suit is to women what lingerie to is men?

You won’t get an argument out of me!

After all, The Suit walks out our door every morning on his way to work. After twenty-two years, it still works for me.

What about you? To shy to share? What about your favorite hero? What would he leave the house in: Three Piece Suit, Head to Toe Leather, Uniform all the Way, or Cape and Spandex, Baby?