Characterisation is one of the most important elements of any story, long or short. If you don’t get the characterisation right, chances are that your story will fall flat on its face and no writer wants that to happen! So the best way to make sure that your story stays with the reader long before they’ve turned the last page is to nail the characterisation.
And for that I am here to share the 7 types of characters that can be created in fiction writing. There are the 7 types of character that you can, after reading this post, easily identify in the books you’ll read – even in the fantasy books with complex characterisation.
This post is a followup to the 2 hour Webinar I conducted on my YouTube channel. You can watch it here:
So let’s have a look at these 7 types of characters.
7 Types Of Characters In Fiction
1. Dynamic Characters
Dynamic Characters are the characters who go through a significant transformation in the story. As a result, they end up being different at the end of the story than how they began at the start of the story. The change or transformation they undergo can be for the better or worse.
Examples of Dynamic Characters: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Nevile Longbottom in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Theon Greyjoy, Sansa Stark, Jamie Lannister and Samwell Tarly in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Bilbo and Frodo in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein
2. Static Characters
Static Characters are the characters who do not go through any significant transformation in the story. They remain more or less the same way at the end of the story as they were at the beginning. These are generally strong-headed characters.
Examples of Static Characters: Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Professor Dumbeldor and Hagrid in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Danerys Targaryan and Cercie Lannister-Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
3. Round Characters
Round Characters are characters that are multi-layered, well-developed, possess multiple intricate personality traits and are insanely interesting. They have complex personalities and are mostly reader’s favourites. They help in driving a major chunk of the story forward and often are a part of sub-plots (if they are not the protagonist fo the story.)
Examples of Round Characters: Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Professor Dumbeldor and Hagrid in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Sansa Stark, Jamie Lannister, Samwell Tarly, Danerys Targaryan and Cercie Lannister-Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
4. Flat Characters
Flat Characters are characters that are single-layered possessing 2-5 basic personality traits and are not at all interesting. They appear only in limited scenes in the story and play only a very specific role beyond which their character is not explored further. Most of the times they are unimportant and uninteresting to read, but they do play a key role in a few scenes in the entire story.
Examples of Flat Characters: Crab and Goyle in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Most characters from Meereen, Yunkai and Astapor and even the Sand Snakes in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Merry and Pippin in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
5. Stock Characters
Stock Characters represent a ‘type of people or personality’ rather than an individual. They portray a specific stereotype based on social prejudices and/or cliches. They are opposite of Symbolic Characters and are usually used to depict the negative traits.
Examples of Stock Characters: Mean stepmother, abusive husband, estranged father, con artist, billionaire bachelor, gentle giant, tough guy, nerd girl, hopeless romantic and so on.
Professor McGonagall and Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Jorah Mormont, Davos Seaworth, Melisandre the Red Priestess, Olenna Tyrell in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gollum, Saruman and Sauron in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
6. Symbolic Characters
Symbolic Characters represent a theme or concept larger than them. They always have dynamic personality and qualities and stand for a class of certain type of symbolic traits rather than an individual. They are the exact opposite of Stock Characters and depict positive traits and greatness in a broader sense of the word.
Examples of Symbolic Characters: Professor Dumbeldor in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Eddard Stark, Tommen and Robert Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin and in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
7. Foil Characters
Foil Characters are the characters that are used as a foil to highlight the qualities of the main characters. They are generally polar opposites of the main characters and authors use them to bring out the qualities of their main characters indirectly.
Examples of Foil Characters: Draco Malfoy is a foil to Harry Potter’s character in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Sansa Stark is a foil to Arya Stark and Jamie Lannister is a foil to Brienne Of Tarth in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gollum is a foil to Bilbo and Frodo’s character in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
So these are the 7 types of characters in fiction. Did you know about them already or was it the first time you heard about some of these? I’d love to hear about what kind of characters you personally prefer while reading fiction books or writing your own stories.
Here are some other great resources on types of characters and characterisation in general:
- Writing 101: All the Different Types of Characters in Literature
- 9 Types Of Characters In Fiction Writing
- 12 Types of Characters Featured in Almost All Stories – Reedsy Blog
- Types of Characters in Fiction – Your Dictionary
- 9 Types Of Characters in Fiction – by Rachel Poli
- Character: Definition and Examples – Literary Terms
- 8 Types Of Characters To Include In Your Story – By Jerry Jenkins
Thanks a lot for reading!
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