Mike and I have been thumbing through the book 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I like the structure a lot, and think it's organized in a good way to be a real help to writers. However, the archetypes seem to be heavily skewed towards issues in gender inequality. For instance, one archetype is "The Father's Daughter," which is about being a peon of men in order to win their approval. Man, that's not an archetype, that's a personal problem. An outline of an archetype should focus on the root character: perhaps the character is a fighter who tends to align themselves with whoever has power. The cast of gender into the archetype makes it sound silly and shallow, to my ears... and not useful. Leave it to me to decide the content of the character's imbalance, I don't need your suggestion to make it all about patriarchy. This author also mentions that members of the Seductive Muse archetype tend to support recycling. Let's leave attitudes towards paper products out of our characterizations, ok?
There's another book out there called Tarot for Writers, and maybe that's better. The major arcana of the tarot is certainly a rich vein for archetypes; however, from my brief glimpse at previews online, it looks like this book might be intended to assist with using writing about tarot archetypes as a Gateway and Meditation Into Your True Authentic Self, or something like that, rather than as a help to people trying to create characters for, you know, a book. One reviewer mentioned the author recommends saging your room before working with the tarot - uh, again, I'm looking for something about writing, not about sage rituals, cough cough. Plenty of places to go if that's what I'm looking for (my personal favorite tarot book is the fabulous Qabalistic Tarot by Robert Wang).
I'm hoping to check out The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby, and Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler this evening. If anyone knows of another book about character archetypes for writers, or if you have good or bad opinions about any of these, please let me know!