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In this link about character development, the author describes basic male archetypes that are found in a romance novel. http://www.likesbooks.com/eight.html My question is: although this is very helpful, the qualities described are hard to flesh out. For example...the ceo boss archetype...what would be the details of this character(likes/dislikes/hobbies/way of conduct) that would really bring alive the qualities of this archetype. How would he conduct himself around people? Around women? I know the long answer is to read books and more books and pay close attention to thedetails of the character. But is there a guide available on this to get started?

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3 Answers

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The CEO Boss archetype

He is anxiously building his image as:

A ruhtles utilitarian, ostensibly displaying his contempt of everything what cannot fit into account records. He doesn't need to follow rules, he is stating them. All people - even his own family - have the only value for him: profit (financial, emotional, ... etc).

Cold power available to the highest bidder.

Some examples of CEO Bosses:

  • Reinhard Heydrich
  • Joseph Fouché
  • Michael Douglas in Wall Street
  • Jack Thompson in The Assassination of Richard Nixon
  • Robert De Niro in Angel Heart
  • Francisco Rabal in Torquemada

(I cannot imagine any CEO to be someone's "best friend" or a "prince on a white horse".)

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I think what many archetype systems use as a base point (consciously or unconsciously) is the Enneagram of Personality. Indeed a lot of writer's workshops and courses revolve around using the enneagram to make characters.

To cross reference the enneagram with the archetypes in your referenced article it breaks down like this:

  1. Perfectionist (Bad Boy/Lost Soul/Professor)
  2. Giver (Best Friend/Bad Boy)
  3. Achiever (Chief/Charmer/Professor)
  4. Romantic (Bad Boy/Lost Soul)
  5. Observer (Professor/Lost Soul/Bad Boy)
  6. Idealist (Bad Boy/Swashbuckler/Warrior)
  7. Dreamer (Lost Soul/Charmer)
  8. Boss (Chief/Warrior)
  9. Peacemaker (Chief/Best Friend)

I think the reason why this cross referencing could be helpful is that the enneagram works on the basis of motivation whereas the archetypes work on the basis of outward behaviour.

Essentially the archetype gives you the outward appearance of the character whereas the enneagram gives you a clue as to the character's motivations for assuming their archetypal role.

It's a bit complicated to go into here but basically the breakdown shows that people could be motivated to assume the role of the Chief because they are a Boss, a Peacemaker or an Achiever.

The Boss fears weakness and acts in an aggressively protective manner towards their own perceived weakness and is also strongly motivated to protect those he cares about

The Peacemaker fears conflict and always acts to appease all parties and assume control.

The Achiever fears inadequacy and uses roles like masks over their own inner sense of inadequacy, it is as if their role is a persona masking (quite obviously) their inner personality which the achiever fears is somehow subpar or unworthy.

The relationships within the enneagram go a lot deeper but you can probably start to tease out how chiefs in these three different flavours will favour different outward appearances.

A boss chief will be very spartan and constantly proving that he is strong, he will be a man's man, properly macho. His leadership will be portrayed as some sort of duty and he will be keen to prove that he is the only one strong enough to do the job.

A peacemaker chief will make much of being patrician, urbane, calm and in quiet control. He will make sure he is perceived as generous and reasonable, he will enjoy the accoutrements of peace. He will often be keen to mark out a spiritual space and repeatedly use rhetoric that indicates people obey his station not his ego. He will be the most likely to treat leadership as a burden of reponsibility.

An Achiever chief will be, bluntly, obsessed with bling. His leadership will be a self-obsessive affair and he will want sports cars, blackberries and gold chains to show that he is the boss.

Obviously you could go into this very deeply but that's a jump off point for this kind of character analysis.

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I would suggest some of the pickup artist material that has been written over the past five years. These guys have figured out the "rules" for trying to attract women. From what I've seen, it generally breaks down men into these categories:

  • alpha: your CEO type, used to getting what he wants.
  • beta: the nice guy who finishes last.
  • omega: the creepy guy in the corner.

What I like about this material is that it breaks men (and women) down into a set of behaviors, and these are easy to replicate in writing. While there are tons of books available, one of the most interesting free resources I've found is Roissy's blog [WARNING: misogyny].

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