Elements of Fiction: Characters Part 1

Friday, May 7

Probably the most important thing in any story; the characters. The plot, conflicts; everything revolves around them. Naturally, we need to spend some time on them.

Types

Protagonist
This is the main character. He's the guy who makes the choices, it's his life you're detailing. While most tend to be likable heroes, over the past few decades readers have developed a taste for characters that you should by no means find appealing. But instead, their selfishness, cowardice, or blurry logic can make them roguishly endearing instead of evil. Perhaps it makes them seem more human.
But there's a fine line when using this technique. They must do some good things, and at least possess one good quality. Otherwise, they're just annoying.

Antagonist
The antagonist is the bad guy. He's not always present as a character. In some conflicts, the antagonist exists in a different form. The antagonist does everything in his power to stop the protagonist from achieving their goals, which tend to negatively affect the goal of the antagonist. For more on casting them, check out my post Creating Villains.

Secondary Character
Secondary characters, while not in the spotlight, interact by forming relationships with the protagonist and antagonist.

Minions
While minions are stereotypically the evil villain's cronies, I prefer to classify them as those who side with the antagonist. This doesn't not necessarily make them evil. Several times, this type of secondary character might do it out of fear, confusion, or naivety.

Friends
Friends help and support the protagonist. They usually influence the main character's decisions, thus influencing the plot. Some friends may have once been Minions or In-betweens.

In-Between
These guys don't side with either the protagonist or the antagonist. They work for their own interests and causes.

Static and Dynamic

Static
Have you ever stared at a static television screen? While the fuzzy black and white is certainly in motion, they seldom change into something better or worse.
So it is with static characters. Static characters are defined as any character that remains the same throughout a story. They don't really grow or change. Their personality remains the same throughout the story.

Dynamic
Dynamic characters are affected by their circumstances. They can become braver and stronger through their trials. At the other end of the spectrum, the conflicts can prove too much for them, and they lapse into bitterness, thoughts of revenge, or fear.
Every main character must be dynamic. If they do not develop and learn throughout their story, what's the point of it? If throughout our lives we never changed, then what would be the purpose?

Naming Your Character
I believe I wrote a post on that a while back, as well as a collection of good naming sites.

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