Monday, September 5, 2016

Character in Fiction

Character - representation of a person, place, or thing performing traditionally human activities or functions in a work of fiction
  • Protagonist - The character the story revolves around.
  • Antagonist - A character or force that opposes the protagonist.
  • Minor character - Often provides support and illuminates the protagonist.
  • Static character - A character that remains the same.
  • Dynamic character - A character that changes in some important way.
  • Characterization - The choices an author makes to reveal a character’s personality, such as appearance, actions, dialogue, and motivations.  
Look for: Connections, links, and clues between and about characters. Ask yourself what the function and significance of each character is. Make this determination based upon the character's history, what the reader is told (and not told), and what other characters say about themselves and others.

protagonist: The main character in a story, often a good or heroic type


antagonist: The person or force that works against the hero of the story; the “bad guy.”

Protagonist:  Harry Potter 
Antagonists:  Aunt Petunia, Voldemort, Draco Malfoy
Minor Character:  Moaning Myrtle
Static Character:  Professor McGonagall --   Draco Malfoy is static in the series, but not so static in the recently released play.  
Dynamic Character:  Harry,  Ron, Hermione 

For more information on types of characters, see

How do we learn about characters as we read? 

How We Learn About Character

Here is another way of looking at characters: 

 Archetypal Characters based on a 

presentation by Annette Lyon (local author and good friend of 

James Dashner - Maze Runner): 

The Writer’s Journey is a book that explains common types of characters and plots.


Hero – audience identification -- someone we can relate to on some level
if Malfoy were our main character, would we sympathize with him
growth, change –
action --
character flaw – biggest weakness (could be fear,
sacrifice -- (example, Harry willing to die for the greater good)

Mentor – often a wise old man or woman
(Dumbledore and Hagrid)
gift-giving (light-sabre) --
motivating hero – quelling fear, kick in the pants, etc
can turn out to be a villain shape-shifter

Threshold Guardian
testing the Hero
(Dursley letters, purpose – to test the hero)

issues the challenge
announce a coming change, that all is not well
provides motivation to Hero
person or object

Shape-shifter --
not what he or she appears to be (Snape?)
“Real” self-revealed can force change
good or evil, can be any character

the villain
tests the hero’s true abilities
forces Hero to rise to the challenge
often appear beautiful, elegant, or good (Shapeshifter)


balances out the drama with a little laughter
brings things into perspective