Please note: I used “she and her” while writing this article to prevent shuttling between the use of he/she or him/her while referring to the characters.
Characters are the core of any novel; they are the elements that push the story forward. With one character, if there is a conflict (inner or otherwise) you can write a complete novel. Generally, most people categorize character as major and minor but there are more types to consider while writing a story.
- Protagonist: This is the main character in any literature. The entire story revolves around her and there may be more than one protagonist in a novel. Other characters have their roles but at the end of it, what they do affect the protagonist one way or the other. The protagonist is usually more developed than other characters because there is a need for readers to connect with her. Every story has a protagonist, there is no plot without a protagonist. Narrative of a story could also be from the protagonist’s point of view or otherwise. An example is Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie’s mystery novels and Thomas in the Maze Runner book series.
- Antagonist: The big bad wolf! All her actions bring the conflict to the plot- to the protagonist. Most story stream down to the battle between good and evil so is the conflict between a protagonist (good) and an antagonist (evil/bad). Not knowing the next move of an antagonist could be the very thing that keeps your story going. There is no protagonist without an antagonist, both play important roles in a story. There are also instances where the protagonist is also the antagonist. For example, a man with a dissociative personality disorder. A side of him is good and one of his alter egos is bad, the antagonist. An example of this is the movie Kill me, Heal me. The main character’s greatest battle was with himself and his alter egos. An example of an antagonist is Joker. Joker is relentless! No matter how many times Batman defeats him, he keeps coming back like a hydra. To me, this makes him one of the baddest villain of all time.
- Dynamic characters: These characters change through the course of a story. The change could be from good to bad or vice versa. Your main characters (especially the protagonist) must be dynamic. Growth should occur naturally in the course of the story. Take Oliver Queen, for example, he grew from being a playboy to a father, a husband and a vigilante who died to save the world, twice! A dynamic character I love is Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. To me, Neville saved the wizarding world. Another example is Nathan in One Tree Hill.
- Static characters: These characters don’t change and they are usually unlikeable. Most antagonists or tertiary characters are static. An example is Lord Voldemort of Harry Potter. He was mean at the beginning of the story and mean at the end.
- Foil characters: A foil character’s personality is often the opposite of the protagonist or any other character in a story and they exist to highlight that difference. They could be the main antagonist, but sometimes they are not. Their clash with the protagonist is usually basic, different from the main conflict. An example is Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter. Often, the different personalities are overlooked by the two characters, like in the case of Kirk and Spock in Star Trek.
- Stock characters: These are fixed characters with a stereotype, a nerd, jock, joker etc. Examples of these characters are Ruby and Roman from the Seraphs book series. Ruby is the typical high school girl, the cheerleader, while Roman is the comic relief. A stock character can make your reader feel relaxed, a break from the tension. Although it is better to give them a little depth so they don’t bore readers and they feel useless at the end of the novel.
- Round and flat characters: Round characters have fully-developed personalities and are more relatable. They have strength, flaws, weakness, backstory, they are more realistic. We can’t always guess how they will react to situations and that is what makes them more interesting. A good character must be a round character, the exact opposite of a flat character. A flat character has one, maybe two sides to her.
Characters are what makes a story. If you have a good story, without excellent characters to develop the story and spice it up, your story is just an idea. Take time to work on your characters.
With love from, S.A. TRINITY