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.
DESCRIPTION: Lovers are passionate, sensual, and devoted, seeking the bliss of togetherness and love. They live life in full, show their heart in relationships, and focus on building closeness and intimacy with those they care about. Often this involves a romantic partner, but it can also manifest as strengthening core bonds with friends or family, making them feel loved and valued. Gone too far, emotions can become volatile, leading to obsession.
FICTIONAL EXAMPLES: Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet); Lady and the Tramp (Lady and the Tramp); Ross Geller (Friends); Alex Forrest (Fatal Attraction)
Affectionate, Charming, Empathetic, Flirtatious, Focused, Friendly, Generous, Gentle, Kind, Loyal, Nurturing, Passionate, Patient, Persistent, Persuasive, Playful, Protective, Sensual, Uninhibited
Addictive, Controlling, Extravagant, Foolish, Frivolous, Gullible, Impulsive, Irrational, Jealous, Melodramatic, Needy, Obsessive, Oversensitive, Perfectionist, Possessive, Subservient, Worrywart
ASSOCIATED ACTIONS, BEHAVIORS, AND TENDENCIES
Being tuned into the emotions of others
Showing attentiveness and thoughtfulness
Accommodating loved ones and their needs
Seeing the best in someone
Seeking closeness and intimacy
Showing closeness through honesty and trust
Showing love through gifts, words of affection, acts of service, touching, and quality time
Love-bombing (being too affectionate or attentive)
Being comfortable with emotional sharing
Encouraging others to share their feelings
SITUATIONS THAT WILL CHALLENGE THEM
A loved one setting boundaries or asking for space
Discovering a loved one has lied or kept something from them
Knowing another has a closer relationship than they do with someone they care about
Being asked to keep a relationship secret and private
TWIST THIS TROPE WITH A CHARACTER WHO…
Falls for someone but doesn’t lose their sense of self (and so doesn’t try to be someone else or change to win love in return)
Is loving and seeks love, but has boundaries and respects the boundaries of others
CLICHÉS TO BE AWARE OF
Loving someone and it being forbidden (the family is against it, the character lives in a caste system, religious intolerance is at play, etc.)
The character falling for someone when there’s no common ground, yet it ‘just works’
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.