Character Type & Trope Thesaurus: Dark Lord or Lady

From Writers Helping Writers:

In 1959, Carl Jung first popularized the idea of archetypes—”universal images that have existed since the remotest times.” He posited that every person is a blend of these 12 basic personalities. Ever since then, authors have been applying this idea to fictional characters, combining the different archetypes to come up with interesting new versions. The result is a sizable pool of character tropes that we see from one story to another.

Archetypes and tropes are popular storytelling elements because of their familiarity. Upon seeing them, readers know immediately who they’re dealing with and what role the nerd, dark lord, femme fatale, or monster hunter will play. As authors, we need to recognize the commonalities for each trope so we can write them in a recognizable way and create a rudimentary sketch for any character we want to create.

But when it comes to characters, no one wants just a sketch; we want a vibrant and striking cast full of color, depth, and contrast. Diving deeper into character creation is especially important when starting with tropes because the blessing of their familiarity is also a curse; without differentiation, the characters begin to look the same from story to story.

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DESCRIPTION: Evil personified and seemingly invincible, this antagonist is out to rule the world. They often use fear, intimidation, and the extensive resources (magical, military, or otherwise) at their command to dominate and control others.

FICTIONAL EXAMPLES: Sauron (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), the White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Voldemort (the Harry Potter series), Thanos (the Marvel Universe), Emperor Palpatine (the Star Wars franchise)

COMMON STRENGTHS: Adaptable, Alert, Ambitious, Analytical, Bold, Confident, Decisive, Efficient, Focused, Independent, Industrious, Intelligent, Meticulous, Pensive, Perceptive, Persistent, Persuasive, Proactive, Resourceful, Talented

COMMON WEAKNESSES: Callous, Cocky, Controlling, Cruel, Devious, Disloyal, Evil, Greedy, Haughty, Impatient, Inflexible, Judgmental, Manipulative, Obsessive, Perfectionist, Possessive, Pretentious, Resentful, Suspicious, Temperamental, Unethical, Vindictive, Violent, Volatile

Having a strategic mindset
Being single-minded in their pursuit of the ultimate goal
Carefully controlling their emotions
Having a big presence that fills the room
Wearing clothing meant to make them more intimidating
Walking confidently with long strides
Taking quick, decisive actions
Being emotionally unavailable
Having little tolerance for mistakes; being unforgiving
Easily replacing allies or underlings who fall short of the character’s expectations

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers