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: Hopeless romantics love being in love and are eternally optimistic in the quest to find their soulmate. When that quest is born from an unmet need or past wounding event, it can become all-consuming, prioritized above everything (and everyone) else.
FICTIONAL EXAMPLES: Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), Romeo and Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby), Giselle (Enchanted), Joan Wilder (Romancing the Stone)
COMMON STRENGTHS: Affectionate, Charming, Enthusiastic, Extroverted, Flirtatious, Friendly, Funny, Generous, Happy, Idealistic, Kind, Passionate, Perceptive, Persistent, Persuasive, Sensual, Sentimental, Trusting, Whimsical
COMMON WEAKNESSES: Addictive, Flaky, Gullible, Impatient, Impulsive, Insecure, Irrational, Jealous, Manipulative, Melodramatic, Needy, Obsessive, Oversensitive, Possessive, Self-Indulgent, Temperamental, Weak-Willed, Whiny
ASSOCIATED ACTIONS, BEHAVIORS, AND TENDENCIES
Having a clear idea of who their perfect match should be
Always being on the lookout for someone who could be their soulmate
Noticing the little things about other people
Having a cheerful disposition
Believing in signs and destiny
Being gushy and/or over-emotional
Always thinking the best of a love interest
Allowing a relationship to take over their lives
Losing themselves in the person they’re with
Throwing themselves recklessly into a relationship
SITUATIONS THAT WILL CHALLENGE THEM
Falling in love with someone they shouldn’t (someone who’s married, an abuser, isn’t interested in long-term relationships, etc.)
Being dumped by someone the character thought was “the one”
Close friends getting married while the character remains single
TWIST THIS TROPE WITH A CHARACTER WHO…
Is street smart and savvy
Is romantic until things go wrong, at which point she becomes vindictive
Has an atypical trait: introverted, controlling, know-it-all, suspicious, meticulous, etc.
CLICHÉS TO BE AWARE OF
The hopeless romantic embroiled in a stereotypical love triangle, such as the plain girl, her best friend, and a hot guy at school
The romantic character who falls in love with someone at first sight
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.
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Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.