Heroic Traits – Archetypes

No matter the hero’s gender, age, culture, education, or anything else, he or she will often share many of the following characteristics. If you’re writing your own story, you can pick and choose which of these work within your framework OR make sure your hero has none of these—thereby making sure your story doesn’t fall into cliché territory.
In the Hero’s Journey, the common heroic traits or experiences are:
• There may be unusual circumstances of his birth.
• He may leave his true family and live with others.
• He may experience a traumatic event that in some way leads to his quest.
• He may receive a special weapon.
• He will (hopefully) prove himself during his quest.
• He may receive an “unhealable wound.” This may be physical or psychological (something that will haunt him for the rest of his days).
• He may achieve “atonement with the father” or some kind of reconciliation with his parents, heritage, family history, etc.
• If he succeeds in his quest, he may receive “spiritual apotheosis”—in which case he is raised, at least in the eyes of many, to divine status. Maybe he becomes a God or maybe people are in awe of him.
Since I will have separate posts about each of these traits, I will not provide examples from my normal set of stories and films. Instead, I suggest you pick a character or story you know particularly well and see how many of the above traits you can find. If writing your own story, see if you “unconsciously” put any of these traits in your novel.
More to come.
*P.S. – I hope nobody was offended that I simply used the masculine pronoun throughout the above bullet points. I like women. I really do. I was not trying to alienate anyone.


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