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Characters are the heart and soul of any story. They are the readers guide into the world being crafted. Without a solid guide, the world would seem confusing and uninteresting. In stories, there are many different roles that each character must play to give the reader the best experience possible.
The main characters act as a window into the world. They are introduced into the rules of the world alongside the reader. They tend to be oblivious and naive almost to a fault. The plot centres around them, meaning through their actions or hapless circumstances, they are forced into unfortunate and exciting situations. Therefore, they aren’t usually the reader’s favourite character. Spending the most time with the protagonist reveals their flaws and weakness.
These imperfections are used to progress the plot forward but can frustrate readers if not executed well. For example, a smart character can alienate the readers but if done well a smart character can be really engaging and fun to read. Although in a fantasy setting, the fun comes with discovering a new world with a character and sharing in the wonder and process of discovery. Of course, this does not apply to every book, such as novels where the main character follows their passion despite their disadvantage. This gives readers an endearing view of the main character while also allowing the reader to learn about the mechanics of the world with the character.
Much like in real life, other characters in books only show the sides of themselves that they want to show. This leaves readers only seeing the kind, enjoyable side of the side characters. With their imperfections and deriding side hidden away, they leave a good impression on readers. Side characters can be used to show the situation the main character might be in. They populate the world giving it life and personality and their interaction with the main characters cue the reader into the type of environment it is.
Knowledgeable and Respected Characters
They guide the main character and the reader through the systems of the world. Due to being more experienced in the world of the story, they protect, teach and help the main characters with different issues. They can also be used to warn the protagonist about impending danger, setting up future conflict, etc. The readers typically have a positive view of these characters.
These serve to introduce motivations and rivalry for the protagonist to overcome. They provide an idealised goal for the main characters to reach and surpass. These characters usually have contrasting outlooks compared to the main character. They might also have a personal relationship in order to have readers more invested in the outcome. They provide a challenging obstacle on the protagonist’s journey.
With derision in their voice and a terrible personality, these characters are here for the readers to hate. They are made to be disliked, usually the antagonist but can also be characters with an upcoming redemption arc. These characters, to no one’s surprises, are usually the reader’s least favourite. This opens a world of possibilities for the story as these characters can either be given a satisfying defeat or an inspiring vindication with time and perspective. They usually have opposing ideologies and philosophies to the main protagonist which might serve as the driving force for the plot. The main character’s defiance of their conflicting views shows determination and maturity to the reader.
These characters are seen as an indomitable force at the start, a seemingly unscalable mountain to stop the protagonists from progressing, both physically and emotionally. They can be used to bring together unlikely characters as a common hurdle to be overcome. Teamwork can be stimulated in response to overcoming the improbable. The resolution to these characters usually serves as a platform of the protagonist’s development that concludes in an enthralling moment to give readers a sense of closure.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if I should keep making posts like this. Let me know if you noticed any of these character roles are in the story you’re currently invested in! What role did they fit?
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