Types of Characters in Literature Every Writer Should Know

characters in books

When reading an average book, it is only natural to remember the storyline and the things that have impressed us the most! Still, it always comes down to the personalities and types of characters we meet. No matter your chosen genre, a good book should have strong character development representing various emotional constituents. Even if you have an amazing plot and beautiful setting somewhere in the remote parts of the world, you still have to create a character that will impress, inspire, and motivate people to read further. It is where all the writing and editing work takes place to create a moral constituent and describe the values and inner mechanics of a human being!

All it takes is a bit of analysis and creativity that helps to reflect things in the dialogues and the story’s unfolding. What would the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn be without the clever use of dialogues and two fun and restless youngsters with adventurous and cheeky minds? The same applies to Robin Hood, Tarzan, or Hercules Poirot in Agatha Christie’s detective stories. What does it mean for us? It clarifies that learning more about the character types in literature is essential! If you are about to start writing a book, you must explore, analyze, and determine your character traits and options. It is precisely where our guide will help you make your story stand out and succeed!

Creating characters and using them in your story

It’s hard to find a more important aspect of writing a book than coming up with relevant types of characters in a story. After all, one cannot make a story without at least one strong personality. Before you say that some books about nature can go well with descriptive language to impact a reader, this character-building method is called the personification of the setting.

Now, when you have a great idea for a fiction story or wish to create educational materials based on your research work to create a fiction story, you can get things done correctly easier. By contacting fiction ghostwriters, you can narrow things down and have a professional editor assist you with the collection and sorting of information. If we add accuracy and editing factors to the equation, it becomes a “win-win” situation.

Speaking of personification, it is one of the most challenging ways of creating a character type because one has to be a truly good and creative writer who uses metaphors and allegories as the writing takes place. Still, if you wish to help your story develop and keep things inspiring, you need to work on the outline for your characters and learn more about each type.

We require character roles in a story because of the approaching of an issue, a conflict, or a problem in a book. Speaking of a conflict, it is not necessarily something negative, as each story must be resolved. It can be done in many different ways before you finally conclude. Sometimes it can be an internal conflict of a single character that must be faced. Imagine a simple story of a small child learning to overcome the fear of the dark or standing up for a friend in the playground. It is an example of an internal and an external conflict that must be present to help the book character come alive as the plot unfolds. It is where many people have used famous ghostwriters even! Most people keep it secret as no famous ghostwriter will reveal themselves. After all, a famous ghostwriter sounds like an oxymoron! Hey, even Mark Twain did some biography ghostwriting work!

As you brainstorm various types of characters in literature and seek ideas for your book or even a short manuscript for college work, you should focus on the best ways to make your character realistic. Your target audience has to connect to the emotions and actions of a particular person or a group of people. It can be a positive character or even a criminal like Professor Moriarty, who Sir Arthur Conan Doyle so cleverly outlined. As a rule, a story would only be complete with the opposites or mental arcs. It means you should always think about both sides of the story to make things inspiring and meaningful!

7 main types of characters in literature

To simplify things a little bit, let’s divide the types of character traits by the roles they can play in a book. By doing so, we can get a protagonist, an antagonist, the love interest expressed, the confidant, several deuteragonists, tertiary characters, and the so-called foil type of characters. Let’s take a closer look at each type:

  • Protagonist. It’s easy to determine the protagonist as it’s usually the main character of a story! The tricky part is having a logical backbone that would tell a story. A character must have a personal motivation and a clear personality. Still, keep everything private in the first pages of your book! For example, we have Amir in The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, who is both the narrator and protagonist. We can follow the development of a character as he grows from a young boy to a married young man. Creating a protagonist that will stand out can be a bit hard! You might not know that some famous authors have used ghostwriters to compose their characters. Some famous ghostwritten books include Nancy Drew by Alice Leonhardt and Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine. Hey, even The Count of Monte Cristo has been partially ghostwritten!
  • Antagonist. It is the villain or a negative character in a story. Think about the personality of Captain Hook from Peter Pan or Shere Khan from The Jungle Book as the most famous kinds of characters to consider. Note that Professor Moriarty or the Joker can be both protagonists and antagonists if one chooses someone like them as the story’s main character.
  • Love interest. It is usually related to the object of desire. Remember Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind Story or Dana and Kevin in Kindred? One of the best and most prominent examples in literature is, without a doubt, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It is a type of character that requires both reflection and a clever combination of dialogues here and there to drive the love story, among other things.
  • Confidant. It is a person the protagonist can confide in. In a certain sense, it is a friend or someone who can be trusted. Consider Sancho Panza’s personality as an example of such characters in stories. Writing in the third person, many authors choose to talk through the lens of a confidant in the story to explain certain objectives.
  • Deuteragonists. This type of character often gets mixed up with the confidant roles. While there is closeness with the main character, it is not the same as being a confidant. Still, it’s the secondary main character in most cases. Using deuteragonists is helpful when you need to provide a different outlook on the story. Consider Dr. Watson as the deuteragonist who often shows a much softer and more compassionate side of things in the story.
  • Tertiary characters. They are usually present in the story but do not play a major role and are the supporting elements to make it work. It helps to add dynamics to the writing. Speaking of such characters in writing, it can be a friendly barista at the bar in a detective story, a grumpy old man who shows the way to the prince in the fairytale book, or a noble guard who helps to capture a runaway prisoner.
  • Foil characters. These are necessary to outline and highlight the qualities of the protagonists. It is not necessarily a bad versus good or kind versus evil type of personality. Just think about the personality of Captain Kirk in Star Trek and his relationship with the smart Mr. Spock, who represents a different set of minds and beliefs. While they are friends and will always stand for each other, their character traits help to showcase their differences.

5 character dynamism types

Before we proceed with the archetypes of characters, it is important to learn more about the dynamics of change. Simply put, you must set how your characters will evolve or remain static. As the story takes place, you may have different type of characters to work with. It can be a dynamic character who is free like the wind, a round character with no sharp mental ages, a static character who is not willing to change, a stock character, and a symbolic personality.

  • Dynamic Character. It is the one who goes through constant change and keeps the dynamics of the story high. Just think about Huckleberry Finn, who often changes his mind and keeps the story inspiring. It is precisely the dynamic type if a person is willing to change, take risks, and never sit in the same spot.
  • Round Character. This character is close to the main protagonist and usually functions as flexible and fluid. They are ready to accept certain changes, yet they will only act once asked to. In the majority of cases, they are noble and faithful. An example is Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.
  • Static Character. Such characters in the story are not willing to change and usually approach conservative ways of life. They are also known as flat types of literary characters in a story. They are often parental figures in children’s books or villains unwilling to change their traits. It is the case when a person has always been the same way.
  • Stock Character. It can sound complex but do not let this type of character frighten you. They are simply additions with a fixed set of qualities and traits. They are the personalities that must be there to fill the space. It can be anyone from the mad scientist to the mean popular girl in high school. When dealing with the characters for a children’s book, using stock characters like “bully”, “goodie-two-shoes,” or a strict teacher is essential. Now, characters have to be accurate, so it’s not only adherence to standards in terms of grammar, spelling, logic, and accessibility. As readers that pay attention to detail, children will notice every mistake that may be made. It is why children’s book editors should be chosen for editing and proofreading work. They know their job well, from formatting to explaining complex terms or making the sentences more readable.
  • Symbolic Character. It is the type of person usually larger than life and plays a strong symbolic role in the narration. They may be dynamic and mysterious as the audience must decrypt the message and learn to read between the lines. Even if they play a supporting role, they add to the meaning and reveal moral challenges or the author’s motivations. A prominent example is Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. As a ghost-like personality, he reflects the town’s past, the woes of slavery, inequality, and the fear of children.

Exploring 12 character archetypes

Now we can easily come to the final part of our character types guide by focusing on the archetypes of a personality. Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychologist, first presented these. Let’s focus on each type of characters in a story: 

  • The Lover. It is the type of person who always follows the voice of their heart. They believe in strong morals and have passion in their words and expressions. They may be naive at times and act irrationally, but it’s the love that guides them. A famous example is Scarlett O’Hara.
  • The Hero. It is self-explanatory, as we all need a hero to save the day. They stand for courage and perseverance. They may feel insecure at times but always do their best. An example of such a personality is Spiderman or Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars saga.
  • The Magician. This character type is mostly used in fiction books and fairytales. They can be both good and bad. A positive example is Gandalf, as we can see the inner strength and adherence to discipline.
  • The Outlaw. This type is quite complex as we can have personalities of the outlaws like Han Solo from Star Wars who do not represent something negative per se. They just go against society’s rules and demands. If you wish to show a conflict, this type might be helpful.
  • The Explorer. It is a character that is essential for adventure books. They are the ones who wish to go beyond the boundaries. They are always curious and motivated. They may never feel satisfied as it’s one of their weaknesses. A famous example is Huckleberry Finn or Rasmus from Rasmus and the Vagabond by Astrid Lindgren.
  • The Sage. A wise person can provide knowledge and the answers for those who ask. They always show wisdom and share their experience. They may appear static to those who do not know, but it is often a false impression as you may explore different types of character. Obi-Wan Kenobi or a quiet librarian stereotypical personality can fit within this role!
  • The Innocent. This character can be a young lady or a child with purity and innocence. Their intentions are only good. They are kind and sincere. They may have limited skills and act naive due to their vulnerability. One of the most prominent examples is Simon in Lord of the Flies, who works towards good, friendship, and community spirit. Another example is the Little Prince character by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Finally, consider the character of Shasta in The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis as you look through the Chronicles of Narnia.
  • The Creator. It is a character type who knows how to observe and create. They can convince others and show one´s willpower. They may lack certain skills and can be single-minded to a certain degree. Famous creators may include scientists. An example can be Iron Man from the Marvel comics as we look at the Tony Stark figure.
  • The Ruler. This character may have legal, physical, or emotional power over other characters in your story. It may include governments, law enforcement officers, teachers, and parents. Think about Aunt Sally in Tom Sawyer’s adventures. In most cases, they may be disliked and represent some excessive control while they hold to their status.
  • The Caregiver. It is a kind character who is always selfless and caring. They may only sometimes take leadership roles due to their lack of confidence and inner struggles. The most famous caregiver we know is Mother Teresa and Princess Diana. A fictional example is Cinderella, as she cares for animals and people.
  • The Everyman. They also call these characters salt-of-the-earth types as they suit every situation and represent life itself. They may not have special powers or significant skills, but their personality and sincerity show their evolution as they go through adventures. Bilbo Baggins is one of those famous everyman character types.
  • The Jester. If you include a college jester for an adult fiction novel or someone who has to be fun by intention, this is the type that you need. It may also be used if your book involves satire. Think about “The Friends” TV series as one of the examples. These characters are funny, caring, and insightful. Think about the Fool in King Lear by William Shakespeare or First Clown from Hamlet. Another example is Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura, which tends to see the positive sides of life no matter what.

Getting your characters outlined correctly!

When you are feeling stuck with one of your characters or seek someone who can assist you with the development of your angry personality type for a story, you are in the right place. We are a friendly team of professional ghostwriters who can help you create, outline, improve, edit, and complete various characters. Regardless of your book type and genre, we shall pick the best solutions and provide examples.

We always do our best to create a safe, creative environment where you can look at various ideas and choose those that fit you. From the character outline to complete editing and proofreading, our experts know how to prepare things for publishing. If you need urgent guidance with the character types or any other type of writing, editing, and formatting, feel free to get in touch, and we shall do the rest!

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