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An intelligent person or being, usually a human, which influences the events of a story.

Characters are the base of every story, so creating memorable characters are important. Some things to consider when creating characters are name, personality, appearance, and background.

Types of Characters

  • Protagonist - usually the 'good guy' in a story. A protagonist is the person who the story follows, and the person who is facing against the antagonist.
  • Antagonist - usually the 'bad guy' in a story. An antagonist is the person who goes up against the protagonist.
  • Major or central characters - are vital to the development and resolution of the conflict. In other words, the plot and resolution of conflict revolves around these characters.
  • Minor characters - serve to complement the major characters and help move the plot events forward.
  • Dynamic - a person who changes over time, usually as a result of resolving a central conflict or facing a major crisis. Most dynamic characters tend to be central rather than peripheral characters, because resolving the conflict is the major role of central characters.
  • Static - someone who does not change over time; his or her personality does not transform or evolve.
  • Round - anyone who has a complex personality; he or she is often portrayed as a conflicted and contradictory person.
  • Flat - the opposite of a round character. This literary personality is notable for one kind of personality trait or characteristic.
  • Stock - those types of characters who have become conventional or stereotypical through repeated use in particular types of stories. Stock characters are instantly recognizable to readers or audience members (e.g. the femme fatale, the cynical but moral private eye, the mad scientist, the geeky boy with glasses, and the faithful sidekick). Stock characters are normally one-dimensional flat characters, but sometimes stock personalities are deeply conflicted, rounded characters (e.g. the "Hamlet" type).
  • Anti-Hero - a major character, usually the protagonist, who lacks conventional nobility of mind, and who struggles for values not deemed universally admirable. Duddy, in Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, is a classic anti-hero. He's vulgar, manipulative and self-centered. Nevertheless, Duddy is the center of the story, and we are drawn to the challenges he must overcome and the goals he seeks to achieve.
  • Foil - any character (usually the antagonist or an important supporting character) whose personal qualities contrast with another character (usually the protagonist). By providing this contrast, we get to know more about the other character.
  • Symbolic - any major or minor character whose very existence represents some major idea or aspect of society. For example, in Lord of the Flies, Piggy is a symbol of both the rationality and physical weakness of modern civilization; Jack, on the other hand, symbolizes the violent tendencies (the Id) that William Golding believes is within human nature.

Creating a character

1. First drafts and ideas

  • Is your character major or minor? Is your character a protagonist or an antagonist? Usually, stories are created around characters, so this bit would usually come with the first thoughts of a character.
  • How old is your character? Is your character a he/she/it? What does the character look like? Again, this should usually be in the first mental drafts of a character.

2. Names

Names define people, so choosing appropriate names for your main characters is important.

  • Choose a name that fits the age and time frame for your character. Search up on Google "Names meaning ____".
    • In place of "____" , insert a word that describes the character. For example, if that character is a miracle, type in "Names meaning miracle" on Google.

  • Base the names on the character's nationality and race too, without being racist. The best way to do this is to base their first name on where they live, and to base their surname on where their family is from. For example, you could call an Asian person living in America "Joseph Shi".
    • K, V, X and H are harsh. Korvax and Havoc are probably not nice people.
    • B, J, M, F and R are examples of letters that sound firm without being menacing.
    • L, U, S and O are smooth, soft and sometimes sensual.

The following is a list of recommended names for human protagonists and antagonists.

Protagonists Antagonists
Male Joseph, Samuel, Chuck, Thomas Victor, Eric
Female Victoria

3. Fleshing up

  • What are your character's abilities? If he/she/it is a superhero/supervillain, this might be in the first drafts as well. What does the character wear in terms of clothing and accessories?

4. Involvement in the plot

  • Make your character useful by creating situations in the plot in which only he/she/it can help out with.

Read Character Convenience for more information.

How to make a good protagonist

  1. Over all, the protagonist must have a goal; something that they really want badly. In a romance story, it can be to get the girl, or in a superhero story, it can be to protect the city and keep their identity a secret. This goal is what the antagonist gets in the way of, if the antagonist isn't the problem him/her/it self.
  2. Make times hard for them. Which would be the more interesting story? A) The hero must save a few people from a criminal. B) The hero must save the whole world from annihilation? It would be B, because it's a harder goal to achieve. Also, make things hard for them emotionally. It's good to kill off one of their loved ones to make them more stronger.
  3. They must have flaws. This makes the journey harder for them, due to a flaw that they have, whether it is an inside sadness, or a troubled past e.t.c.
  4. Make the readers sympathize with your character. Firstly, you must make them seem like a good person which deserves the readers' sympathy. Secondly, use trick 2 (making times hard for them).

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