Wednesday, May 4

The Bad Boy, The Swashbuckler and the Charmer – Oh, My!

So I've been deep in edit-land on the new WIP, and in the midst of railing against my hero because he just wouldn't fit into the box I realized something. He wasn't supposed to fit. In my brainstorm of an idea, he was a Charmer. But he kept doing Bad Boy things (here is where you need a hint from me: I'm talking about Hero Archtypes, Tami Cowden has some great into on them). And So I tried to make him a Bad Boy and Swashbuckler things started happening and this was soooooo not in my plans.
Which is where sanity prevailed. I had a new brainstorm, not about my book and not about my character. About Archtypes in general…and that is that a character doesn't have to be just one archtype. He could break the mold, so to speak, and have some character traits from different types of Archtypes. And still be what I envisioned when I started writing. Now, not all archtypes feed into one another, at least not for me. But for me, and for this book, this character, I realized that my Charmer was a bit of a Bad Boy with a hint of Swashbuckling thrown in for good measure.

For example, a Bad Boy can also be a Charmer and a Swashbuckler (think Matthew McConoughy in Fool's Gold or Sahara).

A Bad Boy, according to Tami Cowden, is a rebel. He's tough, street smart and just a little bit volatile about his 'badness'. Maybe he had a rough upbringing, maybe he led a privileged life but is misunderstood. Maybe. Maybe. He's also charismatic and has a charming side once he meets Ms. Right.

Next, the Swashbuckler. He likes danger (as does the Bad Boy), he's always up for an adventure and is a daredevil. All traits that our Bad Boys can have in the right situations. Think Indiana Jones or Jack from Romancing the Stone (you knew I couldn't leave Romancing the Stone out, didn't you?).

Finally, the Charmer. This hero is fun, smooth and not given to too much responsibility (see our Bad Boy in this?). He likes his uncommitted life right up to the moment that Ms. Right walks in his door. He's charasmatic (like the Bad Boy) he likes adventure (like the Swashbuckler) but would probably rather bungee jump for fun rather than jump off a cliff to escape the bad guys.

The key to these three archetypes, which aren't interchangeable but can feed off of one another, is to fully develop them. As with all Alphas. A Bad Boy can't be a 'rebel without a clue'; he needs to have reasons for wanting to rebel or for not wanting to work within the constraints of society. Our Swashbuckler can be an adrenaline junkie, but what really drives him is his code. Whether he wants to put antiquities in a museum for all to see or is trying to make his fortune, he has reasons for jumping into the fray. And our Charmer isn't just trying to get into Ms. Right's pants - although he likes her pants! He wants more from life, but isn't ready to fully commit - or admit - that there might be more than his playboy ways.


  1. You are so right about a character not just being one archtype. I think characters, as with real people, are a combination of all of them given the right situations.

    Great post!

  2. I think the best writers break the mold. That's why they're remembered.

    And who doesn't love a loveable rake, especially the swashbuckling variety??

    Can't wait to read it.

  3. Sorry I didn't come by last night, K. Just felt icky all over.
    Anyway...I've never completely understood these archetypes because people are such a mix of things....but it's a great post. TY

  4. I think a mix makes a hero interesting. Anything else would be way borig. Great post!