ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Creative Writing 101: Types of Characters

Updated on January 7, 2015

Ah, characters. The little voices in our heads, our imaginary friends, our sons and daughters of paper and ink, our creations. They are perhaps the closest companions of a writer, and their crafting is probably the most fun part of the whole writing process. Characters are a crucial part of stories, they are as important and influential as the main plot. A logical plot can carry a story, but compelling characters can save even the most draggy plot lines, and make a readers' time worth their while.

Types of Characters

When learning about characters, the first thing to do is understand what a character is and some of the categories that characters fall under. According to the Oxford dictionary of Literary Terms, a character is a “personage in a narrative or dramatic work”. Characters are the people or personages that exist in the Literary Universe where the story occurs. There are different types of characters. We all know the main types like protagonists, antagonist, and supporting characters. We know their purposes left and right. However, these are not the only types of characters there are, and their existence is of importance to the flow of the plot. They are:

Major: These characters are vital to the movement of the story. Without them, the story cannot move along. The main plot and all the events in the story revolve around these characters.

Minor: These kind of characters complement the major characters and their only purpose is to move the story forward. Through characters like these writers often present exposition.

Dynamic: This term refers to personages that change over time. They are the ones that actually go through a character arc. This means that from the beginning of the story, a character has a certain personality or attitude towards life. By the end, a dynamic character has moved to a different state of mind. This is more of a character trait than a category. Protagonists are often dynamic, because they solve issues around themselves and at the same time they solve problems they hold inside of them. However, they are not the only ones that can hold this trait. Anti heroes, anti villains, supporting characters and others can be dynamic too. It's all about the change.

Round: A round and a dynamic character are often confused. Since the dynamic character is the one that changes, people often refer to them as round character. Nevertheless, there is a marked difference between these two characters. A round personage is one that has a complex personality. They are often conflicted. They are the characters that hop from the good side to the bad quite often and that have complicated backstory. Round characters often present mental illnesses or traumatic events in their back stories that push them to the evil side.

Foil: Often a minor type or an antagonist. These characters have specific traits that will bring out the positive qualities in your protagonists or secondary characters. If, for example, you want to make your readers see how brave your main character is, and in turn make him more likeable, you could make another character a coward in a despicable manner. Basically, this coward will make your protagonist look good.



An archetype can be a typical situation, event, or character that has become universal. Under the concept of characters, we sometimes refer to archetypes as stock character.

A stock character is a cliché, a conventional and repetitively used character. Some of the most common archetypes are:

Hero | Source
By Emanuel Ologeanu
By Emanuel Ologeanu

The Hero: This is the character that takes the protagonist's role. The chosen one, the one that goes out of his comfort zone to face evil or adversity.

The Mentor: This is the character that guides the hero at the beginning of the story. This is the person who teaches the hero the ropes.

The Fool: An optimistic character who serves as a symbol of hope, and has always time to jest.

The Star-Crossed Lovers: Romeo and Juliet. A couple of lovers that are destined to a tragic end. Through them, other characters learn valuable lessons. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, after their untimely deaths their families make peace.

Readers can spot these characters right away, because they have been used for the longest time in storytelling. This is not always a bad thing. Archetypes have become a cookie cutter for characters. We all know them, and as writers, we can use this to our advantage. Archetypes should be taken as friendly suggestions when constructing a character, not guidelines. We can take some of the traits of an archetype and change some details, some actions, some decisions our characters take, in order to make them original and help them stand out. This way, we can surprise the reader and make them identify with these characters.

As humans, we all have similar problems and insecurities. We all make mistakes, we all find ourselves in difficult situations where we have to choose between good and evil, we make decisions we later regret, and struggle to leave our guilt behind. However, these characters overcome these same issues one way or another and for that they are worthy of our admiration. Characters should have flaws, because flaws make them more human. Characters can follow some of the archetypal guidelines, so we can identify with them easily, but their actions should break the cookie cutter a little in order to be believable and more original.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Michelle Monarrez profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Monarrez 

      6 years ago from El Paso, TX

      Thank you!

      I hope you find this helpful for your own writing. Happy character crafting.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      So interesting! I think so little about the types of characters that I read and write--it was great to see categories for them

    • Michelle Monarrez profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Monarrez 

      6 years ago from El Paso, TX

      Hi Jackie,

      I feel strongly like this. They are my closest friends, because I know them inside out. The love of a writer for her characters is something beautiful. I think you should visit them, it is always so much fun! Thank you for the share.

      Yours in Writing,


    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from the beautiful south

      I remember and love all my characters I have created. You are right they are like family; lol. I have to go visit mine every now and then although they have done nothing new in so long!

      Up and sharing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)