In 1959, Carl Jung first popularized the idea of archetypes—”universal images that have existed since the remotest times.” He posited that every person is a blend of these 12 basic personalities. Ever since then, authors have been applying this idea to fictional characters, combining the different archetypes to come up with interesting new versions. The result is a sizable pool of character tropes that we see from one story to another.
Archetypes and tropes are popular storytelling elements because of their familiarity. Upon seeing them, readers know immediately who they’re dealing with and what role the nerd, dark lord, femme fatale, or monster hunter will play. As authors, we need to recognize the commonalities for each trope so we can write them in a recognizable way and create a rudimentary sketch for any character we want to create.
But when it comes to characters, no one wants just a sketch; we want a vibrant and striking cast full of color, depth, and contrast. Diving deeper into character creation is especially important when starting with tropes because the blessing of their familiarity is also a curse; without differentiation, the characters begin to look the same from story to story.
But no more. The Character Type and Trope Thesaurus allows you to outline the foundational elements of each trope while also exploring how to individualize them. In this way, you’ll be able to use historically tried-and-true character types to create a cast for your story that is anything but traditional.
Explorers thrive on adventure and discovery. These trailblazers are unafraid of new experiences or challenges, and boldly moving into the unknown is a part of their identity.
FICTIONAL EXAMPLES: Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones Series), Captain Picard (Star Trek), Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), Evelyn O’Connell (The Mummy Franchise)
Adaptable, Adventurous, Ambitious, Appreciative, Bold, Confident, Curious, Decisive, Focused, Idealistic, Independent, Observant, Passionate, Persistent, Resourceful, Spontaneous, Wise
Abrasive, Cocky, Impatient, Impulsive, Macho, Manipulative, Obsessive, Possessive, Rebellious, Reckless, Selfish, Stubborn, Temperamental, Withdrawn, Workaholic
ASSOCIATED ACTIONS, BEHAVIORS, AND TENDENCIES
Nomadic tendencies (being on the move, never staying too long in one place)
Not needing much in the way of creature comforts
Having fewer attachments (to things, people, places)
Having a broad understanding of people, cultures, and customs
Knowing more than one language
Being highly spontaneous
Being a ‘figure it out as I go’ sort of person
Having a strong sense of purpose and a clear goal at all times
Able to think on their feet and adapt to changing circumstances
Being able to learn the rules of a new environment quickly
SITUATIONS THAT WILL CHALLENGE THEM
Having no choice but to wait because another is in control of when things happen
Having to adhere to a routine
Being unable to travel (due to illness, legal restrictions, an injury, family responsibilities, etc.)
TWIST THIS TROPE WITH A CHARACTER WHO…
Finds ways to be dependable while making room for adventure
Gives back as a teacher or leader who encourages others to embrace open-mindedness
Is an explorer who is unselfish, putting the needs of others first
CLICHÉS TO BE AWARE OF
The “lone wolf” adventurer
The explorer who inspires deep loyalty despite never being around to nurture relationships
The adventurer who only travels to far off, obscure places
Other Type and Trope Thesaurus entries can be found here.
Need More Descriptive Help?
While this thesaurus is still being developed, the rest of our descriptive collection (16 unique thesauri and growing) is accessible through the One Stop for Writers THESAURUS database.
If you like, swing by and check out the video walkthrough for this site, and then give our Free Trial a spin.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.