PubCrawl Podcast: Archetypes – Redemption and Revenge

Hey guys! Our apologies for the late episode; Kelly is taking over editing duties while JJ finishes up the revisions on SHADOWSONG and her technical ineptitude, plus ancient equipment, plus mercury in retrograde all conspired against us. Thanks for your patience!

This week we’re talking about some of our favorite core narratives: Redemption and Revenge.

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  • These are Kelly’s favorite! Excellent examples are Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender and Helena from Orphan Black.
  • Redemption stories are all about character development and a fundamental shift in a character’s worldview.
  • It’s difficult to redeem a racist character because the reader needs to emphasize with them from the start, but it’s highly likely to alienate or harm a potential audience. Racist redemption stories aren’t written for people of color; they’re intended for a white audience. These stories also often fall short because they end with the character realizing they hold racist beliefs, and that doesn’t go far enough to redeem the character.
  • Real redemption needs to move beyond a realization of wrong-doing and seek to move forward into making reparations and doing right by those who have been harmed.
  • Redemption stories are only emotionally satisfying when the redemption in earned.


  • JJ’s favorite! Arya Stark from Game of Thrones and Sweeney Todd are great examples
  • Revenge stories have a degree of wish fulfillment, of living vicariously.
  • They can also be very difficult to execute because you need to establish and maintain empathy for your bloodthirsty protagonist.
  • Many redemption stories deal with people who are wrestling with the last shreds of their humanity. Often this means that our hero arrives at the moment to reap her revenge…and cannot go through with it. Or else she does…and becomes a villain. Not all revenge narratives turn into villain origin stories (Inigo Montoya, for example, gets both his revenge and a happy ending!) but it’s a delicate line to walk.

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I’ve so enjoyed catching up on the PubCrawl Podcast archives! These discussions are extraordinarily interesting and useful for writers at any stage of the game. The Archetypes: Oppressed vs Oppressor episode helped me figure out exactly how I wanted to tackle a project that’s had me stymied for a while now. Thanks y’all. <3

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That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll continue our Summer of Archetypes and discuss Cataclysms and Survival Stories! As always if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, send us an ask on Tumblr, or tweet using the hashtag #askpubcrawl!

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