Category: character development

How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps

How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps

Characters are the engine of every story.

Quite often, indeed, they live longer than the story itself. How many of you happened to remember perfectly the characters of a novel read many years ago and not remember the plot at all?

Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

For this reason, it is very important to understand how to master character creation: here’s how to do it in 7 easy steps.

Step 1: download bibisco, your character creation program

Since the creation of the characters is essential, it’s necessary to have the right program that will help you in this task.

bibisco is a novel writing software focused on character creation.

Our vision is that characters are the driving force of any novel. So bibisco is packed with tools designed specifically for character creation.

bibisco is a desktop application for Linux, Mac, Windows. It’s available in 14 languages: Czech, Dutch, French, German, English, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (for both Brazil and Portugal), Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Turkish.

You can download bibisco from the official website: https://bibisco.com.

Step 2: create your project

Once bibisco is installed, it’s time to create your project.

Choose the title (you can always change it later), register yourself as the author, select the language and you are ready to go!

create a project in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
create a project in bibisco

Step 3: create your first character

It’s time to create your first character!

bibisco divides the characters into two groups: the main characters and the secondary characters.

characters' section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
characters’ section in bibisco

Each main character has a conflict, the driving force of the story. Secondary characters instead don’t have a conflict, but they are useful for the development of the story.

In this tutorial we focus on the creation of the main characters: let’s create the first one by assigning it a name.

Step 4: get to know the character in depth

This is certainly the most important step.

All the great characters in the stories have one thing in common: they are believable.

Characters who are either completely good or completely bad are stereotypes and therefore not believable.

What makes a positive character interesting and believable is discovering their dark side. What makes us empathetic with an evil character is knowing that before they became who they is, they was a sweet and generous person.

So, how then can we create interesting characters? Knowing them thoroughly, so that it emerges their human nature, with strengths, weaknesses, contradictions.


bibisco offers an innovative, simple and fun way to get to know the characters: by interviewing them!

Character's interview in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s interview in bibisco

Through 138 questions divided into 6 sections (personal data, physical features, behaviors and attitudes, psychology, ideas and passions, sociology) we can know everything about our characters.

Main character's section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Main character’s section in bibisco

It’s also possible to enrich the knowledge of a character by associating images with it. One of the images can be selected as profile picture.

The associated images and the profile picture can be used as a source of inspiration while building the character or later when writing the story.

Character's images visible while writing in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s images visible while writing in bibisco

Step 5: get to know the story of the character before the story’s beginning

The way of being of each of us, in every moment of our life, is determined by our character and by the experiences we have lived up to that moment.

For this reason, bibisco provides two tools for knowing the character’s life before the story begins.

The first tool is a dedicated section in which to describe the childhood, adolescence, school and professional life of a character up to the moment of the beginning of the story.

The second tool is a section in which to indicate the significant events of the character’s life, with dates and descriptions.

Character's event section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s event section in bibisco

The events indicated in this section will then be merged into the novel’s general timeline.

Step 6: define the conflict of the character

As we discussed in detail in a previous post: no conflict, no novel!

Every main character has a conflict: a dream to be realized, a reaction to an external event, an inner need.

The conflict leads the character to action and thus to start the story.

bibisco has a dedicated section in which to describe the character’s conflict.

Character's conflict section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s conflict section in bibisco

Step 7: define the evolution of the characters

Every story is the story of a change in the condition of things and the evolution of the characters during this process.

And the evolution of the characters is the most interesting aspect because it’s what excites, inspires or upsets us. It’s what we’ll remember when we forget the plot.

As discussed in a previous post, every author should always ask himself: can my readers see themselves in my characters?

bibisco has a dedicated section in which to describe the character’s evolution during the story.

Character's evolution section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s evolution section in bibisco

Conclusion

This is how to master character creation in 7 Simple Steps.

Now it’s your turn! Download bibisco now and start creating characters your readers won’t forget.

Why you should let your characters fail

Why you should let your characters fail

As a writer, you need to understand the value of your characters.

You can write an amazing story, but if the characters are boring – no one is going to read it. But what defines boring?

One of the biggest mistakes writers make is thinking that people only want to read about good things – they want the characters to get the girl, find the perfect job, win the lotto … unfortunately, that’s not the case. And just like in reality, no one likes someone who “wins” all the time. It’s boring!

It’s unfortunate, but it’s true – we want to see other people fail. And it’s not because we are horrible people – it’s because we want to know that those perfect people also have their flaws. And watching a character in a novel try, and try again, is much more interesting than watching them succeed all the time.

It adds a sense of nervousness, “will they or won’t they”, and it helps the reader relate more. Unfortunately, we don’t all lead perfect lives.

Why you need to let them fail

These are four reasons why you should let your characters fail.

No one likes perfection: Mary Poppins wasn’t even perfect. No one is. So why would you make the characters in your book perfect? It takes away the realism. If you want your characters to be more human, then sorry – but they have to fail at some things. Relatable = Likable and if people find something in common with the characters in your novel, they’re likely to stick around.

Constant success is boring: If your character always does everything right and never makes mistakes, your readers will be yawning in no time. There’s no mystery – we already know they’re going to succeed in everything they do, so why bother reading? Adding disagreements, guilt, miscommunication and conflict is a great way to keep readers interested.

Change is important: We discussed this in our other blog. The fact is, everyone changes and through making mistakes or failing, it proves to the reader that your characters are no different. Change is a natural progression in life and as such, should be a natural progression in your story.

Humans are complex: You need to recognize that humans are complex. We’re certainly not black and white, we’re all kinds of color. We’re irrational, brave, terrified… we offer bad advice and we ignore good advice. And again, if you want your audience to relate to the characters in your book, you want them to be as “human” as possible (even if they are aliens with 30 arms and a robot brain).

How can you include failure in your story

Failure for your characters doesn’t have to be complex.

There are actually plenty of ways you can include failure into the storyline, and most are quite simple. They’re generally easy to write and will help you to determine another path for your storyline.

Here are a few examples:

  • Refusing to take someone’s advice
  • Trusting someone who isn’t telling the truth
  • Not accepting help
  • Overhearing incorrect information
  • Failing to do something physically
  • Arriving too late to an event
  • Getting simple directions wrong
  • Losing something that’s important to the storyline
  • Not saying something that needs to be said
  • Forgetting an important event or item
  • Rushing to do something

While there are plenty of ways your characters can fail, what’s most important is how they get back up again. How do they rectify the situation? That’s what readers essentially want to know.

Not sure where to take your characters?

bibisco is a novel writing software that gives you all the tools you need to get your novel off the ground, including help to create characters and their stories.

Why You Should Let Your Characters Fail - bibisco main character design -

Try it yourself today.

Why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless

Why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless

If you’re writing a novel, you’ll understand the most important aspect is the characters. And ensuring those characters keep people interested while they’re reading is vital. If your characters are doing the same thing, day in and day out, people are going to get bored quickly. This is why the evolution of characters in your writing is essential.

Think about those novels that you remember that you may have read 20 years ago. Why do you remember them? It’s the characters. And most likely, it’s because those characters underwent some sort of physical, emotional or psychological transformation. (Take a look at The Hero with a Thousand Faces of Joseph Campbell).

So, why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless?

The fact is, everyone changes

If you want people reading your book to relate to the characters, you want them to be as realistic as possible. Our lives are never mundane, and there’s no such thing as ordinary. Almost every year of our lives is filled with some type of change, and for some of us, it’s every month or week.

Couples, for example, meet for the first time, they start dating, get engaged and then married, they have children, then grandchildren – they may even get divorced. It’s a natural progression of life. Not only that, but we change jobs, we travel, and we do things in our lives that are significant. You want your characters to embody all of this as well.

So, what is change?

And how can you incorporate this into your characters? Change is anything that happens in life that is outside the “norm”. You can get up every day at the same time, shower, eat breakfast, get in the car or catch a train, and go to work at the same job you’ve been at for 10 years, doing the same job you’ve always done. That’s the norm.

But if you catch a train and all of sudden, you trip and fall and break your hand – that’s change. If you get to work and they’re holding a party for you because you’ve been promoted, that’s change.

How to plot change

You want to make the change believable and relatable to your character.

If your story is about a poor farmer girl in the 1800s who falls in love with a rich city boy, she probably shouldn’t grow fairy wings all of a sudden. Unless of course, that’s what your novel is all about.

But change for your characters should evolve slowly throughout the book. It’s best if you write down all the character changes before you start your novel – it will make more sense when you’re writing. Set the scene for each chapter and set expectations for what might happen.

Once you have the character features set, it’s time to shake it up a bit. Which part of the story could do with a bit more excitement? And how are you going to introduce that?

For example, you have a story about two young lovers in the 1900s, on a farm, and they’re standing having a conversation about the weather. Suddenly, a storm hits and floods the property, and the boy gets washed away. This changes everything (and opens the path for a pretty good story).

Use your own experiences

We understand why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless.

The best, and easiest, way to draw on change for your characters is to think about your own experiences or fears. For a simple example – if you’re afraid of spiders, your character could be also – and they could come face to face with a huge spider as part of the storyline. Think about what makes you tick and what impacted you when you were growing up – and use it as part of your character’s storyline.

Remember, you want the characters in your novel to be remembered forever. This means they need to create a psychological and emotional connection to the reader. By evolving, the characters in your story are more relatable – in life, we all evolve.

If you need help to do this, bibisco is a novel writing software that helps to turn your good ideas into a fantastic novel.

Why if your characters don't evolve your novel is useless. - bibisco architecture - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco architecture section

It can help you to create your characters and define where they’re headed within the story. Try it yourself today.

Character Archetypes Series: #9 Trickster

Character Archetypes Series: #9 Trickster

We have thus come to the end of this long journey. We explored the Hero’s Journey with its stages and Campbell’s archetypes. However, there is a final archetype that supports the Hero on his journey: the Trickster: we talk about him in the last article of the Character Archetypes Series. Last but not least.

Indeed, it is often a character that is remembered very easily even after a long time. Let’s find out who the Trickster is and what are its characteristics.

Who is the Trickster

Trickster represents the archetype of the cheater, of someone who lies.

However, he is not an antagonist to the Hero. He is someone who accompanies him on the Journey but who is unable to be honest about himself.

Often this character has a comic streak.

Let’s think of the Disney cartoon Mulan. Mushu is Mulan’s guardian red dragon who pretends to have been sent to protect her. In reality, his primary interest is to return Mulan home, victorious, so that he can be reinstated among the ancestors.

Mushu, like Donkey in Shrek corresponds to the archetype of the Trickster and retains some comic characteristics. Donkey too, in fact, supports Shrek in his business but for his personal interest.

In Harry Potter, instead, Dobby represents this archetype. He is the elf of the Malfoy’s family, who accompanies Harry Potter causing him some trouble every now and then.

The role of the Trickster

This archetype has a double well-defined function:

  • dramaturgical function: this character generally has the task of playing down the narrative.
  • psychological function: the trickster laughs at his own limits while trying to overcome them.

Put simply, we can define this character as the shoulder of the Hero.

It is a very useful archetype because it helps to ease the tension during the Hero’s Journey, as difficult moments, or a quarrel between the Hero and the Allies. For this reason, the Trickster has usually a part in moments immediately before the battle. For all these reasons, the reader or the viewer becomes easily fond of him.

Create the Archetypes of your Journey with bibisco

bibisco provides you with its novel writing software to create the characters of your narration, according to the model of Campbell’s archetypes.

Character Archetypes Series: #9 Trickster - bibisco interview mode
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco interview mode

Thanks to the interview mode you will thus be able to create a Trickster that has a good comic streak and that the reader or spectator will quickly become attached to. Creating the characters will be simple, fun and the final result is absolutely satisfying.

The final steps of the Hero’s Journey

The Hero must now go home.

The enterprise does not end with passing the Supreme Ordeal. Even the road back home is however full of pitfalls that try to make the Hero fall into temptation again.

The Hero makes it clear why he decides to return to his Ordinary World, instead of staying in this new, extraordinary world. In this passage, the beginning of the end of the Journey, the protagonist faces the consequences for deciding to challenge the Shadow and his dark forces during the Supreme Ordeal. 

Character Archetypes Series: #9 Trickster - Hero's journey - 
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
Illustration by Valentina Forni @cloudandcowfish

The moment in which the Hero feels he has definitely changed is that of the Resurrection.

In this step, the Hero passes the ultimate test ever. In this journey back to his Ordinary World, he proves to have changed, resisting what would have previously led him to a different way.

And for this reason, it is approaching the last phase of the Journey: the Return with the Elixir. The protagonist of the narration returns home but does not do it empty-handed. He brings with him a treasure that will be useful to his entire community.

The message of this final part is clear. It is important to know how to share one’s mistakes, one’s growth and change with people around us.

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”

Joseph Campbell

Conclusions

The Hero has come to the end of his enterprise. In the same way have we in this narrative between archetypes and moments of the Hero’s Journey.

The Hero has completed the Supreme Ordeal and deserves the just reward. This is usually an object, such as a sword, a person like one’s beloved or simply the awareness of the change that the Hero has faced since leaving the Ordinary World.

In this journey we have learned that the different types of archetypes hide in every Hero and also in each of us. There are those who are Allies, Trickster, who have a function as Herald or Guardian, or who have become the Shadow because they have succumbed to their weaknesses, and to the dark side of each one.

Our Hero who accompanied us on our long journey is now ready to enjoy his Ordinary World with a new awareness of himself and leaves us the way to continue on our personal and daily Hero’s Journey.

The beauty of common people

The beauty of common people

The beauty of common people: keep them boring, or shake things up!

Every story has “common” characters who keep showing up in novels because they may be significant to moving your story along or they may be just there as a mention.

They don’t have any kind of past trauma, and they may not be the lead, they are just as important. For starters, it gives the reader a sense of realism – not everyone lives a dramatic life, and even the people who seem most insignificant in your life can play a huge role. Or, they have the potential to shake things up a bit, particularly in your writing.

And just like in life, if you didn’t have these “common” people who don’t bring drama everywhere they go, it would be boring, right?

How common characters can shake things up

Your common characters could come into your writing by simple name drops. And you have two options – you can keep them as being boring characters who are simply there to add life to the story, OR you could use those characters to shake things up later in the story.

Here’s a few examples:

  • If your novel is about crime, as your story unfolds, perhaps an old friend’s name might come through in your investigation. Your memories of that person are pretty standard – they never did anything exciting, they were simply floating through life without creating issues. But, they could become a central part of the investigation (and perhaps even the killer).
  • You might consider protagonists workmates. If your character is a CEO of a multimillion-dollar enterprise, there is most likely someone who is instrumental in helping him to achieve his goals but wishes to remain anonymous. If you want to expand on this role later in the novel, you can easily turn the story around so that the workmate is someone who secretly objects to his boss’s moving up the ladder, leaving him behind even though he’s been with the firm for a number of years.
  • There are neighbours who you don’t give the time of day to, however, by a chance meeting they eventually play a significant role in your story. What about the lead’s mother or father-in-law? How would they fit into the story? They could well end up hiding many secrets you discover along the way. This secret will change the whole dynamic of your lead’s relationship making your story even more interesting.

Minor characters

If your novel is a romance, there are many options here for minor characters. Your lead may be a bit of a Lothario and one of his conquests shows up at a most inappropriate time and place. Or an ex-girlfriend whom he may have completely forgotten about, decides to get in touch.

Just remember that your characters don’t always have to be exciting, and they don’t always need to bring drama into the story for them to play a part. Also keep in mind that too many common characters who are simply there for show will slow the story down. So don’t go overboard with the “extras”.

How do you determine common characters?

Have you ever sat in a shopping centre and people-watched? This is a great opportunity to create a minor character for your novel. There might be one person that stands out as memorable, whether it’s the way they’re dressed or their mannerisms, or what they eat. They might be just the character you’re looking for to include in one of your scenes.

The beauty of common people - bibisco character's section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s section

If you need any help in understanding and creating minor characters, bibisco is a novel writing software that will help turn your novel into a best seller. Try it today!

Character Archetypes Series: #8 The Guardian

Character Archetypes Series: #8 The Guardian

Speaking of the difficulties the Hero faces before considering his venture and Journey over, in the eighth article of Character Archetypes Series, we now encounter another archetype: the Guardian

The guardian tests the hero by creating difficulties for him, probing his strength and will to complete his journey. 

The Guardian: ally or enemy?

In Campbell’s Hero’s Journey he is identified as the Threshold Guardian.

Character Archetypes Series: #8 Guardian - Hero's journey - 
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
Illustration by Valentina Forni @cloudandcowfish

The Guardian is a contradictory archetype. This character mostly tests the Hero’s internal demons. He seems to be playing the role of an enemy but can turn into an ally. This archetype is not the hero’s direct antagonist, because his purpose is not the opposite of the Hero’s. His purpose is to hinder him to probe his limits and face his emotions. The Guardian is often the right-hand man of the Hero’s main enemy.

Can you imagine in Harry Potter who the Guardian might be? One is definitely the Whomping Willow, a tree we know in the first book. He will also have a role later, in “The Prisoner of Azkaban”, when Harry Potter, Hermione, and Ron find out who Sirius Black is.

Have you ever seen the movie Stardust? If you haven’t, we recommend it to you, and without spoiling anything, we can reveal to you that here the Guardian is actually The Wall Guard. His job is to stop young Dunstan from crossing the wall. He does not want to try to defeat the Hero but only tries to hinder him to verify how much it is decided.

In many other narratives the Guardian presents itself as an element of nature, architectural or an animal.

Why is this archetype important?

The Guardian is sometimes a character the Hero must win the trust of, so he can continue the Journey. It is an important archetype because it allows the Hero to understand how determined he is to change.

Overcoming the difficulties and obstacles of The Guardian, gives the Hero himself the opportunity to understand how deep his determination is. He thus confronts his own uncertainties, fears and internal demons.

It is one of the archetypes that allows the Hero to grow, more than others.

What the Guardian represents are the Hero’s internal demons, his limits, which prevent him from growing up and having a development.

Every time the Hero tries to make a change in his life, these demons return, blocking him. This is not a sign of fate that prevents him from continuing, but a test that verifies his determination and ability. By defeating these demons, the Hero will be able to continue to his Journey with a different self-awareness.

The same happens to all of us throughout our lives. Anyone who stands in the way of our change becomes The Guardian. It doesn’t have to be bad or he’s not on our side. It represents, however, that drive to remain in the present situation, which we know very well. But if we overcome this obstacle, we learn to be stronger and to know better what our skills and limitations are.

You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path.

Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path.

If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.

Joseph Campbell

Use bibisco’s innovative interview mode to create your archetypes

Creating characters, archetypes, is not easy.

The Guardian figure, for example, should normally appear around page 60 of a novel and in the first hour of a cinematographic film. There are some rules, some canons to be respected to create The characters of a narrative.

Thanks to bibisco’s novel writing software special feature, the interview mode, giving life to your archetypes will be fun and will give you many satisfactions!

Character Archetypes Series: #8 Guardian - bibisco interview mode
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco interview mode

Conclusions

Over the course of everyone’s life, every time you start to walk a new road out of your comfort zone, you meet people and situations that we can trace back to the archetype of The Guardian. They test our character, our intentions to go all the way on our path.

Although they apparently appear to us as enemies, it is they who give us a chance to grow more. By overcoming these challenges, we can gain self-confidence and skills that were unknown to us. 

Can your readers see themselves in your characters?

Can your readers see themselves in your characters?

The most important ingredient in a novel is not the plotline!

Anyone can think of a plot, such as a person brought up in the wilderness discovers an unusual shard that turns out to be the key to closing an inter-dimensional portal. Their unique skills mean that they are the only person for the job.

The problem isn’t the storyline, it’s your character.

Can your readers see themselves in your characters? - bibisco main character design
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s character design

Sure, you can turn it into an action movie but you’re going to need non-stop action. That’s exhausting to write and read or watch.

Introducing flaws to any character

Successful novels require three-dimensional people.

The very flaws that make up a character are what make them interesting, relatable, and worth rooting for. Why? Because people can see themselves in the character.

If you’re not convinced then check out the bibisco novel planning software. Specifically, have a go at interviewing your character.

Can your readers see themselves in your characters? - bibisco interview mode
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s interview mode

It’s a great way to build them and to understand them. However, what you’ll really notice when you use the software to review them, is that they have weaknesses and vices.

Everyone does and the sooner you realize this the easier it will be to create your novel.

In effect, you are aiming for your readers to see themselves in your characters. When they see the character overcome adversity to succeed, they believe if he did it I can too!.

Novel planning software helps you to develop the center of your story, the inner conflict that creates intrigue, motivates people, and drives them to do the right thing even at great personal sacrifice.

Creating The Flaws

You can create a simple flaw such as a drug problem. The problem is that this can be un-relatable.

For example, a good guy that has a good education and perhaps comes from money has become addicted to drugs. The flaw opens up a world of possibilities regarding what the character will do to keep the problem a secret or ensure his continual supply.

Your readers won’t relate to the drug issue, believing the character brought the issue on themselves. However, they will look at the inner conflicts that drive the good guy to make the right decision. In this scenario, they will ultimately expose their issue in order to save the day. In doing so they’ll be forced to confront the issue and deal with it.

This is when you’ll really see the benefit of good novel writing software. By reviewing your character you’ll see that the flaws which make them human are the emotional conflicts that anyone can face.

In the above example, your reader will want to know why they’re conflicted. Despite their addiction, they don’t want others to know about their addiction. Is this because they are ashamed, stand to lose a fortune, or perhaps are concerned about the effect of their actions on others?

Understanding The Flaws

Once you realize that even the biggest flaws come down to simple emotions you’ll start to appreciate that your characters don’t need big flaws like drug problems.

What they actually need is human flaws, the same thing that normal people deal with every day.

When you review your character in this light you can create one that is a normal person. Your readers will be intrigued by their flaws and by how they deal with them. More importantly, the way they deal with them will inspire your readers, reminding them that if he did it I can too!.

A Final Summary

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, regardless of how many ideas are floating around in your head. But, with good novel writing software, like that supplied by bibisco, you’ll find you can focus on what really matters.

That’s creating characters.

If you know your characters inside out then so will your readers, making your story interesting, relevant, and inspirational.

Character Archetypes Series: #7 The Shadow

Character Archetypes Series: #7 The Shadow

In the eighth article of Character Archetypes Series, we talk about Shadow.

We have arrived at the “Supreme Ordeal“, the moment in which the Hero wages battle against his enemy, The Shadow.

Character Archetypes Series: #7 Shadow - Hero's journey - 
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
Illustration by Valentina Forni @cloudandcowfish

This is the most powerful of the archetypes we encounter on the Hero’s journey. He is the hero’s antagonist, his enemy but also his alter ego. In Disney fairy tales and cartoons, it is represented as the villain, in the form of a dragon or monster.

This character got overwhelmed by the negative and dark side of his character and became a Shadow.

What can a Hero do to not give in to this archetype and turn into something dark?

He can learn to recognize this negative side, dominate it and counter it in order not to give in.

We’re used to thinking that the antagonist, the Shadow, is a flesh-and-blood character, a monster, but that’s not always the case. In some cases, The Shadow may be our fear. Let’s think about our daily life.

Have you ever had to do something that scares you, in order to achieve a goal or a loved one? Have you ever, for example, taken the plane to reach your sweetheart, despite the fear of the plane? Many romantic films show The Shadow in the guise of these inner fears.

What is the role of the Shadow?

Within the Hero’s Journey, the Shadow hinders the protagonist during his exploits and creates difficulties for him. To continue on his path, the Hero is forced to overcome them all and thus reach the end of his path.

The purpose of the Shadow is always opposite to that of the Hero. For this reason, the protagonist of the Journey has no choice but to face it.

In some narratives, the Shadow has the appearance of a demon, a general threat. In others, it is represented by a man, an ex-Hero who has succumbed to bad feelings.

Let’s go back to the example of Star Wars that followed us during this imaginary journey through Campbell‘s archetypes. Darth Vader is the dark side of Anakin Skywalker, Hero of his Journey but who has succumbed to the dark side of the force. His goal is totally different from that of Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi and their allies. For this reason, Darth Vader hinders Luke Skywalker on several occasions and clashes with the Hero of this new Journey.

We also think of Voldemort, Harry Potter‘s enemy with whom he has an indissoluble bond. So powerful that one of the two will have to die in order not to let the other survive. In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is a fighter who has been attracted by the dark power of the ring. He fights against Frodo who he wants to eliminate to achieve his goal.

How a character turns into The Shadow.

What makes the narrative interesting is the explanation of how a character turns into The Shadow.

All these characters succumbed to the dark side of their personality and lost touch with their human side.

Another important example of this transformation is shown to us in the film “Maleficent”.

We find that Maleficent, the evil witch, has not always been evil. She became a villain when she suffered a great disappointment of love and succumbed to anger and revenge.

The fight against the Shadow

The Heroes of these narratives, like Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring, face the various difficulties set up by the antagonist. They try to reach the end of the path and return home victorious.

Not in all situations, there is a single hero facing obstacles. As already said, the Hero can count on the Allies, the Mentor and other figures who help him along this path.

Think of the movie Armageddon: a team of NASA-trained drillers goes to space to fight against the huge asteroid that is about to hit the Earth, Dottie, and saves humanity. Each of the team members plays an important role in this narrative.

The Supreme Ordeal 

This is the moment of greatest tension. The Hero must emerge victorious to conclude the Journey but seriously risk death.

On some occasions, it dies only to be reborn, with a new awareness. A reversal of the situation creates suspense, and it seems that luck no longer assists the Hero. The Hero, therefore, faces his deepest fears, the fear of failure.

This step is very important because it is here that the Hero changes and becomes different.

Usually, the action of this point takes place in a hidden place such as inside a forest. Think of the scene in Harry Potter, when he is hit by the spell “Avada Kedavra” and then escorted to Hogwarts in Hagrid’s arms. Moreover, on a mountain, or inside a cave as happens to Frodo at the foot of the volcano, during the fight with Gollum.

Use bibisco novel writing software to create your Shadow

Without the Shadow there would be no narrative. There would be no reason to start the Hero’s Journey.

For this reason, it is fundamental to create a believable character, who knows how to hinder the Hero in his path. In addition, it has to arouse a sense of fear even in the reader.

The Shadow must represent something dark and unknown. Each of us hides a part of the dark ego in himself. Thanks to bibisco’s innovative feature, the interview mode, you can create the archetype you have in mind and make the reader fall in love with your narration.

Character Archetypes Series: #7 Shadow - bibisco interview mode
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bibisco interview mode

Conclusions

After the Hero also surpasses the Supreme Ordeal, he can enjoy victory.

However, he will find himself changed and will no longer be the same Hero who started the Journey.

This moment is the deepest meaning of the Hero’s Journey: facing one’s fears, the enemies, and the Shadow. This is the inner part that represents the dark part of the ego.

We are almost at the end of the Hero’s Journey. Before moving on towards the conclusion of the Journey, in our next articles we will introduce two more last archetypes, very important for the narrative.

You don’t have to judge, you have to understand

You don’t have to judge, you have to understand

We’ve all been there, you see someone doing something and just think that’s crazy.

Watching someone spend thousands on a dress, when you can get the same thing for a fraction of the price, can certainly seem crazy.

However, you need to remember that you don’t know the situation that person is in.

When you assume they’re crazy you’re judging them when you need to understand them. In effect, you need to walk a mile in their shoes before you can attempt to understand if their actions were crazy or not.

Applying This To Novel Writing

bibisco is a novel writing software designed to helps you to see your character.

You don't have to judge you have to understand. - bibisco main character's section - 
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco main character’s section

The software focuses you on developing the character and on staying true to the characteristics you’ve already defined.

That’s the real secret to successful writing.

You need to know your characters inside out. As a writer, you have to be able to see their strengths, weaknesses, and their flaws.

You don’t need to judge them, you simply need to understand them in great detail.

It’s up to the reader to judge the characters and feel for them as they go through their personal struggles.

Don’t forget, every good novel has a flawed central character, it’s their demons and how they deal with them that creates the fundamental storyline.

Some people will inevitably side with the character and others will side against them.

That’s your reader judging your character, not you. It shows they are emotionally invested in your story and you’ve written a good novel.

Building Character

It’s true that we all live our lives from our own perspective. That’s the view we have of life, and it can be hard to see things through someone else’s eyes.

That’s why bibisco has created the interview.

You don't have to judge you have to understand. - bibisco interview mode - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco interview mode

In effect, you can interview your characters. It allows you to build their characteristics and understand their responses, without having to judge them.

Of course, if you want to be a successful writer, you need to be able to emphasize with a variety of characters. Every character in your novel will have their own perspective on life. For you to write convincingly it’s essential that you appreciate the different perspectives.

That’s why the interview approach is so good, you don’t just understand your characters, you can write as though you’ve experienced their life. You’ll give your characters, and the novel, depth.

Why Understanding Is Good

Instead of seeing this as a difficult or even unnecessary process, you should consider the benefits of understanding why you don’t have to judge, you have to understand.

Building Relationships
For anyone to grow as a person they need to move outside of their comfort zone. As a novelist, you’re not looking to judge their actions but you do need to understand what defines their comfort zone.
This won’t just help you to push the character out of the comfort zone, it will illustrate why this is necessary. Resolution of personal conflict is essential for the success of your novel.

Conclusive
Judging people feels good in the short term but leads to conflict as you are incapable of changing your opinion of their actions. This will prevent you from writing the natural direction of a character. By judging them you’ll automatically change them into something that you find more acceptable. That’s not necessarily in keeping with the character or the book.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for life lessons or the best novel writing software, you need to learn how to understand instead of judging.

It will ensure your novel is heading in the right direction and your character appears human, making them relatable and the novel worth reading.

If you need additional inspiration for your novel then take a look around you and look for something that seems crazy. Then, try to understand why they are acting that way. You’ll be surprised at how many doors are opened for you.

Character Archetypes Series: #6 Shapeshifter

Character Archetypes Series: #6 Shapeshifter

Before getting to the final part of the Hero’s Journey, we stop to describe two important characters in the narrative. In the previous article, we talked about the Herald, and this article of Character Archetypes Series we talk about Shapeshifter.

This is a character who changes throughout the story. However, it does not change shape but function in the Hero’s Journey. When we met him, he seemed to be bad. His role is to hinder the Hero in his path. Only towards the end of the story, the Shapeshifter reveals himself to be good.

He is also a figure who has worked behind the scenes to help, without even letting the Hero himself know.

Similarly, the Shapeshifter can apparently be a friend. In the end, he turns out to be an enemy, or someone ready to thwart the Hero.

The Shapeshifter archetype in the Hero’s Journey

Batman in his story had to face many villains. However, one of the most successful characters is Catwoman. She finds herself a superhero, after being fallen out of a window and rescued by some stray cats.  She is very similar to Batman; a night vigilante but decides to join forces with Penguin, Batman’s arch-enemy.

However, Selina Kyle, Catwoman’s human part, begins a relationship with Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. With the narrative, Batman will discover who is behind Catwoman’s mask and that his beloved is actually an enemy to fight. 

On the contrary, a famous example of a character who initially we thought to be the antagonist of Harry Potter is Severus Snape. In the last chapter of the narrative, we discover that he was protecting the young wizard on many occasions.

He always led him to the right path. He fell in love with Harry’s mother, Lily, and for this reason he tried to always protect the boy. And he does not ever let anyone know anything. 

«After all this time?»

«Always» answered Snape.

Harry Potter

The function of the Shapeshifter

This character has the function of creating doubts, suspicions, and uncertainty. It also makes a twist in the story. This character is not to be confused with a liar. Even if they are aimed at a different purpose from what we thought, the actions he does are still real.

According to Campbell, it is related to the Hero’s soul and his energy. It is a catalyst for change, changing behavior in the service of history.

Use bibisco novel writing software to create your own Shapeshifter

The Shapeshifter has its own identity. He tries to confuse the hero during his Journey.  However, this element makes the adventure more eventful and helps to strengthen the hero’s determination. In conclusion, the archetype of the Shapeshifter is crucial for the success of the story.

Character Archetypes Series: Shapeshifter - bibisco interview mode
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco interview mode

Thanks to the innovative interview mode of bibisco novel writing software, you will understand how to create a Shapeshifter character. With this archetype, you could hit the viewer or the reader with a twist at the moment of its revelation. 

Conclusions

During the Hero’s Journey, the Shapeshifter could represent some uncertainties of the Hero’s ego. When he has grown up enough, he will be able to abandon this condition of dissatisfaction that led him at the beginning of his Journey.

In our lives, the Shapeshifter represents the moment when we face our personality and everyday difficulties. We could identify these proofs as the Unknown World tests that our Hero and each of us on our journey face before getting to the heart of the problem in the Supreme Ordeal, which we will discuss in the next article.