can write a book - but it takes something special
to create a best-seller
Lee Masterson's step-by-step guide can show you
Easy Way to Write a Brilliant Novel in 30 Days or
This Proven Success System teaches you to think
about writing from a different perspective.
Finish your novel in only 1-2 hours a day!
Seven Common Character
Terry W. Ervin II
Fiction writers employ a variety of characters while
weaving their tales. Beyond the standard definitions of
protagonist (the main character in a literary work) and
antagonist (the main character or force that opposes the
protagonist in a literary work), recognizing the types of
characters and the parts they play while reading an
interesting story can add to the experience. In addition,
a fuller understanding of the character types and their
uses can increase a writers effectiveness in
weaving his own fictional tales.
Below is a list of common character types, followed by an
explanation and short example.
Confidante- someone in whom
the central character confides, thus revealing the main
characters personality, thoughts, and intentions.
The confidante does not need to be a person.
Example: In a story,
Melvin Sanders is a detective on the trail of a serial
killer. He travels with his pet dog, a pug named Chops.
Instead of listening to the radio, Melvin talks to Chops,
telling him his theories about the serial killer and his
concern he may never discover the killers identity.
In this example Chops is a confidante.
Character - a character which changes during the
course of a story or novel. The change in outlook or
character is permanent. Sometimes a dynamic character is
called a developing character.
Example: Ebenezer Scrooge,
in A Christmas Carol by Dickens, was very stingy with his
money. He worked his employees very very hard for little
pay. After his experiences with the ghosts that visited
him, he changed his ways, paying his employees a more
than fair wage, providing days off work and actually
In this example Ebenezer Scrooge is a dynamic character.
Character - a character who reveals only one, maybe
two, personality traits in a story or novel, and the
trait(s) do not change.
Example: In a story about
a friendly teacher named Sandra Smith, Louis Drud is a
janitor in her building. Louis is always tired and grumpy
whenever Sandra runs across him and says hello.
In this example Louis Drud is a flat character.
Foil - a character that
is used to enhance another character through contrast.
Cinderellas grace and beauty as opposed to her
nasty, self-centered stepsisters is one clear
illustration of a foil many may recall from childhood.
Example: The main
character in a story, a teenager named Sally, is a very
honest person. She always tries to tell the truth and
consider everyones feelings. The teacher assigns
Betty to be Sallys science lab partner. Betty
enjoys gossip and likes to see peoples reactions,
especially if it involves hurt or embarrassment.
In this example Betty is a foil.
Character - a well developed character who
demonstrates varied and sometimes contradictory traits.
Round characters are usually dynamic (change in some way
over the course of a story).
Example: A character in a
story named Elaine never cuts anybody a break. She tells
her friends and coworkers that charity and compassion
have no place in society. On the other hand, Elaine can
never pass up feeding a stray kitten or puppy, and always
tries to find a good home for lost or abandoned pets.
In this example Elaine is a round character.
Character a character that remains primarily
the same throughout a story or novel. Events in the story
do not alter a static characters outlook,
personality, motivation, perception, habits, etc.
Example: Bert, a bumbling
salesman, never takes the time to organize his files,
properly record his sales, or follow up with customers.
Finally, his boss gets fed up and fires him. Bert
struggles for two months to find a new sales position.
During that time, his car is repossessed for nonpayment
and he maxes out his credit cards. Bert finally finds a
new sales position but, before a week passes, he is
called into a conference with his new boss. Bert is
informed he must get organized or hell be fired. A
week later the new boss fires Bert after he fails to
follow up with an important customer.
In this example Bert is a static character.
Character - a special kind of flat character who is
instantly recognizable to most readers. Possible examples
include the ruthless businessman,
shushing old librarian or dumb
jock. They are not the focus nor developed in the
Example: The main
character in a story, Bernard, is hired by a computer
company. His secretary is a blonde named Gidget, who is
cute but forgetful and never gets a joke.
In this example Gidget is a stock character.
Although the character types are listed separately,
characters may be (and often are) a combination. A foil,
for example, could also be a round, flat, or even a stock
character. While most protagonists in novels are dynamic
(change over the course of the novel) and round, they
dont have to be, especially if the novel is plot
driven as opposed to character driven. Its not
unheard of for a short story to feature a static
Some character types are, by definition, opposite and
cannot be considered. For example, one cannot have a
character that is both flat and round, or a character
that is both static and dynamic.
The terms are useful for understanding a character and
his place within the story. But, in the end, it is not
about how a character can be named and classified (except
maybe within the confines of a literature course). As a
writer, its all about understanding the characters
as you create and bring life to them for the reader.
© Terry W. Ervin II. All rights reserved.
Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who
enjoys writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is a
frequent contributor to Fiction Factor and his fiction
has appeared a number of places, including The Sword
Review, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and
When Terry isnt writing or enjoying time with his
family, he can be found in his basement raising turtles.
To contact Terry or to learn more about his writing
endeavors and recommended markets (among other things),
visit his website at: http://www.ervin-author.com
Best-Sellers in 3 Years!
Brilliant New Course by Nick Daws will show you
how to write any book in 28 days or less -