Friday, 9 May 2014

Jobs for characters

Characters have jobs and should be regarded in that way. Understanding that helps bring stories to life and gives them depth.
A bit of theory: fiction writers employ a variety of characters and it is useful to understand the role they play. Beyond the standard definitions of protagonist (the main character) and antagonist (the main character or force that opposes the protagonist) there are four basic character types:
* Dynamic/Round Character - a well-drawn, rounded character which changes during the course of a story or novel. Sometimes a dynamic character is called a developing character
* Foil - a character that is used to enhance another character through contrast
* Static (or flat or stock) Character – a character that remains primarily the same throughout a story or novel. ie the villain
* Confidante- someone in whom the central character confides, thus revealing the main character’s personality, thoughts, and intentions.
They do overlap in some way - a flat character could be a foil as well but you could not have a character that is both static and dynamic.
The terms are useful for understanding a character and his/her place within the story. It’s all about understanding the job characters do. But, in the end, it is not about how a character can be named and classified. I do not believe writing should be hide-bound by theory. Sometimes you just gotta go with your instinct!

John Dean

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