I wish to share my views on “Characters Types” within writing an area that allows for experimentation. The fusion of character types can excite, entertain and transform writing. A well rounded main character (Protagonist) helps the reader relate to the character from the first encounter, including its back story and character growth throughout the story - just as we do ourselves in life. I believe the reader should be able to relate with the emotional state of the character and its thought process.
Story, Discourse & Plot
There can be different variables driving a story but firstly let’s have a look at the difference between a plot and a story, which our characters find themselves a part of. Edward Morgan Forrester, (E M Forester) English novelist, short story writer and essayist in his Aspects of a Novel (1927) defines that “stories are events that happen in chorological order and the plot is the casual and logical structure which connects these events together”. Of course the difference between the two was defined much earlier by Aristotle (Greek Philosopher) who showed a distinction between story and discourse. Discourse is only what is available to the reader as this is how the story is revealed. When analysing discourse we understand whose point of view the narrative of the story is presented.
We could consider plot as discourse, as it connects the events of how the story is to be revealed to the reader. However with the case of many stories, we can have multiple plot lines running simultaneously involving different characters through the telling of the story. This makes for more interesting reading and more complex writing, engaging the reader. Often an event in the story or a character can drive the outcome for the reader.
There are numerous character types which can be created within different forms of writing.
Protagonist: This is the central character of a story with some novels having more than one main protagonist.
Antagonist: This is the character that is opposite the protagonist – the rival character to the protagonist and is the reason for character conflict.
Narrator: This is the fictional story teller. The writing for the narrator can be in the “first person” as they are telling the story. Not only is it limited to “first person”, as there have been occasions when the narrator has been written in the “third person” style.
Cardboard Character: This is a typical or stereotyped character. These characters can often be a representation of certain stereotypes that we see in society and not how writers would build a character through their own thoughts and actions. They are easily recognisable.
Round Character: A complex character that takes time to understand and to discuss their thoughts, views and actions. This character can often be portrayed as conflicted or contradictory.
Developing Character (Dynamic): The protagonist of the story is often a developing character. Change brought on by an event in the story which alters the outlook of the character. Personal development, life lessons, emotional and spiritual growth can all be experienced which can be both positive and negative giving a different outlook by the character towards the end of the story.
Confidant Character: This is one of my favourite character types as it allows the protagonist to reveal her/his inner thoughts and true personality to. This is a trusted character and what can be interesting here is the point of view the confidant can have, even though they rarely if never voice their own thoughts to another character. It can also allow for the writer to question the actions/views of the protagonist.
Static Character: This is a character that does not change over the course of the story.
Minor Character: These characters support the main characters and help with the plot development to move the story forward.
All character types are necessary to compliment the story with connecting plot lines enhancing the direction of the protagonist. Characters are developed according to their roles within the story and how their actions/thoughts affect different plots however they need not always be defined by character trait as the beauty of writing is to push the boundaries expanding the scope of characters and their roles. Characters may include more than one particular character type. A character can be round and developing which may not mean the same thing. A round character might relate to its personality, thoughts or values as a character, while the other relates to how it develops over time. Just some pointers for the next time you are looking at developing characters. A reminder that you can download a free Character Development Sheet from to assist in building a round and detailed character by clicking HERE.
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