You may have noticed that human personalities seem to fall into categories. Some people are clownish, some are mean, some are serious, some are childish, some are bland. There are several basic human models that everyone recognizes. These are called Archetypes. From these models you can extrapolate a personality and build on it, since no one is 100% archetypal. Men and woman can be a combination of any of these archetypes.
The Hero/Heroine: Athletic, confident, handsome, successful, a leader. A model of what everyone wants to be, but most people are jealous of.
The Saint: Pure, noble, kind, humble, understanding. Usually a religious figure.
The Lord: Aloof, regal, into presentation and appearances, usually well educated but not necessarily intelligent, usually wealthy, has high standards, expects perfection, well mannered, easily turned off. Tends to be cold.
The Nice Guy/Girl: Kind, thoughtful, helpful, sympathetic, sweet, unthreatening, easy going, dependable, a real pal.
The Rake/Harlot: Earthy, flirtatious, wanton, wild, instant mood swings, want’s fun all the time, easily bored, non-committal, freewheeling, looking for a free ride.
The Drunk: Can’t deal with reality, looking for escape, wants to get high, stoned, drunk, laid, anything to take their mind off the pain they’re carrying around inside. Sticks to light conversation, irresponsible, self destructive. Usually insecure.
The Cheerleader: Bouncy, cheerful, positive, grinning, happy, cooperative, an organizer, a shill, a back patter, often touchy-feely, wants to be your friend, is always UP!
Mr/Ms Sensitive: Wants to get involved with causes, self righteous, judgmental, ideological, cynical, passionate, tends to demonize opponents, is prone to zealotry, can be demagogic and polemical, considers themselves torch carriers for “values”, thinks they feel empathy but are really only capable of sympathy.
The Clown: Comical, never serious, always trying to get attention, a buffoon, happy-go-lucky, usually unreliable.
The Egotist: Usually intelligent, but over bearing, self absorbed, self centered, insensitive to other people’s feelings, a know it all, a braggart, talks about themselves a lot, free with their opinions, but doesn’t have much interest in anyone else’s, thinks he deserves everything he wants, basically a spoiled brat.
The Dreamer: Intelligent, lots of aspirations, low drive, daydreams a lot, generally inactive, easy going, usually set in their ways, capable of doubt, but addicted to denial and rationalization, always expects to win the lottery, good hearted but frivolous, generally a nice person but is often irresponsible.
The Drone: Bland, responsible, doesn’t rock the boat, keeps head down, plays the game, low confidence, slow about everything they do, waiting for retirement. Dependable. ]
The Masochist: No self esteem, a weakling and a coward, thinks he’s bad, feels guilty about everything, feels he deserves to be treated bad even though he doesn’t really want it, often keeps these feelings to himself, but radiates the above vibes even so. Often gives off strange sexual vibes, like they’re a voyeur in need of a show.
The Professor: Extremely intelligent, non-aggressive, generally asexual, lacking in social skills, little attention paid to appearance, scholarly, generally unassuming, introverted, extremely focused on pet interests, odd sense of humor.
The Dejected: Depressed, weepy, miserable, gloomy, unhappy, or all of the above. A half empty type person. Never satisfied, nothing pleases, always looking for the fault in things, distrustful of any altruistic gesture, always looks on the dark side.
The Boss: A workaholic, driven, a bottom liner, cuts to the chase, no time for protocol, wants it yesterday, doesn’t care about your feelings or problems, demanding, serious, cheap.
The Grouch: Brooding, angry, paranoid, distrustful, a loner, a shut in. Usually a mean old man.
The Shark: Opportunistic, selfish, conniving, manipulative, heartless, charming when necessarily, cold the rest of the time, greedy, ambitious, driven, always HUNGRY for more.
The Villain (also known as The Sadist): Spiteful, vicious, sadistic, power mad, egotistical, cruel, greedy, out for blood, plays games, sick sense of humor.
Everyone has met a version of these archetypes, so they have powerful resonance in a story. That is why you see these characters in fiction all the time. But no one is a pure archetype. Usually, qualities of the others are mixed in.
Some archetypes are actually masks that people have chosen as their persona. The Clown and The Cheerleader are usually fronts for deep pain or insecurity. The same rule applies to the Grouch. The Grouch is often a good person inside, who is afraid of being hurt by other people, so they take the persona as a defense. The Cheerleader is often the Shark or the Grouch in disguise. The Clown is often the Grouch or the Egotist in reality. The Saint is often the Boss or the Shark. The Hero is often a great looking, lucky version of the Boss or the Drone.
REMEMBER: Archetypal characters should never be fully archetypal.