My favourite story archetype

QOTW 15: What’s Your Favorite Type of Story?

Now I want to know: what’s your favorite story archetype? If you need a refresher on these archetypes, look back at Chapter 11 to the section on conflict and power struggles. More importantly, I’d love to know why you chose that story type and whether you’re using it in your current work-in-progress (WIP).


In presenting her QotW, Gabriela mentioned how much she enjoys underdog, or comeback stories.

I have to confess a fondness for the same. I tend to appreciate these stories in the context of the bildungsroman, or the classic story of a character who moves from innocence to experience, in short, the coming of age story.

In terms of the classics, a lot of Dickens’ works are of this type (Oliver Twist, Great Expectations).

I read (and write) a lot of fantasy, though. So I’ll give you a couple of examples from the genre.

I recently read (and enjoyed—a lot) Brent Weeks’s The Way of Shadows. In this novel, Azoth, a young guild rat, begins the story as a homeless orphan whose only aspiration is to stop being afraid all the time. In the attempt to attain his goal, he apprentices to a magical assassin, plays the part of a young noble in the course of his education, and eventually becomes the Night Angel, not by doing what’s expected of him, or what his master tells him to, but by doing what’s right.

Very Oliver Twist-ish, non?

An old favourite of mine is Mary Brown’s The Unlikely Ones. In this lovely fable, the protagonist, known only as Thing, is servant (slave) to a witch. She’s forced to wear a mask all the time because her mistress tells her how ugly she is.

Thing’s lie is very literal. She behaves like the Thing she’s always been told she was. Magic begins to happen when she starts to challenge the lie, however. What I like most about this novel is that Thing manages her transformation through acts of kindness.

My own novels, though I’d very much agree that my protagonists are all protectors, follow similar development and themes. Though they may all have special talents that eventually help them become ‘bigger than life’ characters, my protagonists begin their stories disadvantaged in some way. They have to learn through struggle and loss what they might become.

If you want to find out more about story archetypes, or any of the other writerly goodness that is DIYMFA visit the DIYMFA page!

Tomorrow: I’ll be sharing my notes on the final Ad Astra session I attended.

Next week: I’ll be starting on the panels and presentations I attended at the Canadian Writers’ Summit.