Using the Hero Archetypes to Help Chart Your Path as a Writer

I’ve been writing and telling stories in some form or other for most of my life. Like most, it began with my make-believes as a child. And then it slowly grew from there. But it wasn’t until I was midway through my junior year of college I began to realize that we don’t all have to grow up to become doctors and astronauts and future presidents. We could also grow up to write (and publish) stories of our own.

That realization came to me 19-years ago. Since then I’ve published a few short stories and several articles, and I’ve gone on to build a small freelance editing career working with both fiction and nonfiction writers that I love. But my own writing journey hasn’t been the smooth path I’d first envisioned it might be. It’s been filled with twists, turns, dead-ends, and obstacles that have often left me feeling lost and ready to give up

Last fall, I took part in a virtual writing retreat that ended up being an incredible refresher course for my creative spirit. We covered character sketches, world building, maintaining tension, developing romance, resolving conflict, and narrative pacing, and other topics that weren’t entirely new for me. What was new, however, was how I began looking at each of these pieces as ways to develop my personal story as a writer.

As writers, we take time to get to know what kind of “hero” our protagonist is. We get to know their wants, their needs, their hopes, their fears, and how they’ll respond to certain situations. We look at the world they live in, the people they’re surrounded by. We identify their allies and their foes. And while we might not know exactly how their story ends, we have a pretty good idea of what potential victory or defeat looks like.

But far too often, we fail to take the time to ask the same questions of ourselves. And so we end up wandering in circles, feeling stuck, or wondering why it seems like every decision we make goes ill. Why? Because we haven’t taken the time to get to know our stories…or more importantly the protagonist of our stories, ourselves. It’s time for that to change.

Like your characters, you have a dream. You want to write a book (or many books) and see it published. But with that dream also comes the doubts: “Am I qualified?” “Is it worth the risk?” “Do I have what it takes to succeed?” and perhaps you’re also asking, “Where do I begin?”

I began by looking at the different hero-types that appear in each story. To keep things simple, I broke them down into four types: the Reluctant Hero, the Reckless Hero, the Reclusive Hero, and the Romantic Hero.

As I worked through each type I began asking myself, if I were to look at my writing journey as the story arc of a book I was sitting down to draft out, what kind of protagonist would I be? What are some of the strengths I can use to my advantage, and what are some of the pitfalls I need to be aware of?

Over the next few posts, I going to help you answer the same question. Chances are, like me, you’ll see a little bit of each of the hero types in yourself, but you may also discover you resonate more with one than you do the others. This is by no means a science, but I do hope through these posts you’ll find something that encourages you to begin looking at your writing journey as just that—a journey filled with all the same highs and lows, hopes and fears, and struggles and victories as the characters you love writing about.

I invite you to grab a notebook and pen as you work your way through each post, because you’re going to want to take some notes along the way. And don’t forget your favorite beverage and snack, because as with any journey…you’re going to want a little substance to aid you along the way!


Jen signing off.

A little about Jen:

Before launching my freelance editing business in 2017, I spent 10 years working as a copyeditor and managing editor in magazine publishing. I’ve worked as a ghostwriter, have edited training materials and informational resources for internationally respected Non-profits, and have been published in magazines, anthologies, and other publications—including the Christian Writer’s Market. I’ve also been a finalist and semi-finalist for the Oregon Cascade and ACFW Genesis writing contests for my unpublished YA fantasy writing.

My clients include award-winning, traditionally published authors, as well as previously unpublished writers who have gone on to successfully self-publish their work or receive full submission requests from agents/editors.

You can learn more about me at or by following me on Instagram: @thewriterswellspring or @j.e.lindsay.

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