Writing Masterclass: The Caregiver Archetype

The caregiver characters are rarely protagonists. Originally known as the mother archetype, the caregiver traits involve a motherly approach. For instance, traditionally they are quick to forgive, loving, and offer support and guidance to the protagonist.

An example in popular media includes Primrose from the hunger games, who acts as the motherly figure when both her sister and mother fail at doing so. She takes on a role as a medic and falls foul of Snow’s maniacal plan, becoming a martyr in the process.

While researching this topic, I discovered a blog that used character archetypes within their branding which was a clever, out of the box way of merging a psychology & media study within the business world. You can find the blog here for more information on this.

It’s this kind of thinking that we need to adopt within our writing, to adapt and morph existing ideologies and strategies into less used and more creative ideas.

The caregiver’s biggest weakness is being taken advantage of or martyring themselves to save another but what would happen if we used this weakness to create a more interesting character? For instance, all her life, Annabel has been a carer, she’s looked after more children than she can remember, including her younger brother. Annabel intervenes when the foster home she runs comes under attack by the local council who try to trick her into leaving so they can shut her down. The plot twist? Annabel has not been “looking after” children, but kidnapping them for personal gain.

It’s a rough idea but it proves a point, a character can seem a certain way and follow a certain set of motives but the perspective is key to revealing the real plot. It’s this variety that inspires me to write as it supplies so many possibilities for stories. The more you delve into the theory, the easier the stories appear in front of you.

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