Patterns For Fiction

By “patterns” I mean archetypal characters or stories. They’re used in non-fiction, too, especially in newspaper articles, ads, and political campaigns. Just for fun, be mindful of patterns and see how often you read an article about, say, the horse nobody thought was worth anything who turned out to be a great racehorse. Or, say, a guy who grew up dirt-poor who is now running for office.

So, for fun or for your use, here are some:

Patterns For Fiction (Or Non-Fiction)

Royalty in Disguise
The Unjustly Persecuted
Triumphant Fool
The Maiden in Distress
The Animal Bridegroom (or Bride)
The Faithful Servant
The Tenacious Wife
The Clever Serving Girl
Brothers in Conflict
Winning the prize
Winning or losing the loved one
The blessing becomes the curse
Overcoming obstacles/Rising from the ashes/wasteland restored
The ugly duckling
The emperor has no clothes
Descent into the underworld
Redemption through sacrifice
Life from death (agriculture myths)
Blood is life
Nature cycles
Purification by water/fire
Dual unity
Father Sky and Mother Earth
The slaying of monsters
Least becomes greatest/triumph of the underdog/rags to riches
The Hero Journey
The Scholar who seeks to change the world through knowledge and technology
The Soldier who seeks to change the world through might and magic
The Politician who seeks to change the world through words and guile
The Priest who seeks to change the world through faith and vision
Trickster Hero
The Good King
The False King
The Misguided King
The Wicked Step/mother
The Brave Prince
The Evil Witch
The Good Fairy
The Talking Animals
Helpful Animals/Inanimate Object/Natural Forces
Wise Woman
Earth Mother
The Madwoman

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Pick one of these patterns at random and use it in a story.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Patterns For Fiction

  1. Jane

    June 9, 2014 at 9:40am

    Nice list of suspects. Interesing how many character names leapt to mind at each point, both mine and others’.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 9, 2014 at 10:08am

      I know there are many, many more. The most interesting characters, to my mind, are blends or transitions.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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