•The protagonist is
the main character in a
story, novel, drama, or
other literary work.
•It is the character that
the reader or audience
•It is their problems
that move the plot and
•Although they often
are written as heroes,
they do NOT have to
be the “good” guy or
The antagonist opposes the protagonist. Yes,
in the most archetypical narratives this boils
down to bad guy vs. good guy: Luke
Skywalker versus Darth Vadar in the first Star
Wars movie, for instance.
But remember! The protagonist does NOT
have to be a good guy. If a story is written
from a criminal’s point of view being chased
by police, then a cop would be the
Remember that antagonists don’t have to be human either. They
are the force in conflict with the protagonist.
Characterization is the process by which
the writer reveals (shows) the personality
of a character.
Characterization is revealed through direct
characterization and indirect
Direct Characterization tells the audience
what the personality of the character is.
Example: “The patient boy and quiet girl
were both well mannered and did not
disobey their mother.”
Explanation: The author is directly telling
the audience the personality of these two
children. The boy is “patient” and the girl is
Indirect Characterization shows things
that reveal the personality of a
character. There are five different
methods of indirect characterization:
Speech What does the character say? How does
the character speak?
Thoughts What is revealed through the
character’s private thoughts and
Effects on others What is revealed through the
character’s effect on other people?
How do other characters feel or behave
in reaction to the character?
Actions What does the character do? How does
the character behave?
Looks What does the character look like? How
does the character dress?
Dena was a kind,
“Dena felt so sad
when she saw the
hurt little chipmunk
that she began to
cry. She immediately
approached it to try
and help it get better.”
A character who is very detailed and the reader is
able to see and visualize all sides of this character.
Round characters are usually protagonists and
antagonists but exceptions do occur.
We understand the motivation of these characters
(why they do things) and their personal
In Finding Nemo, Marlin is
a round character. We
understand the reasons
behind his attitudes. We
know his past, his
tragedies, his feelings.
Frodo Baggins of The
Lord of the Rings by JRR
Tolkien is also a round
character. In the books
and movies all sides and
personalities to Frodo is
If you can list a lot of
things about who they
are, their personality,
and their motivations,
then most likely you
have a round
If you hardly know
anything about them,
or only one or two
things stand out about
them, then they are
Flat character is a character
with a very simple
personality; often called
"one-" or "two-dimensional"
characters. They are not
though. (Think a flat piece of
The writer does not provide
enough information for us to
understand them; we only
get to see one side of the
Whitney, Ivan and General
Zaroff from The Most
Dangerous Game are flat.
We don’t know that much
about them, and the things
we do know are limited.
In Finding Nemo,
Bruce the shark is a
flat character - he is
not around very long,
and we don't really
understand why he
does what he
does. His motivations
are very simple -
when he gets hungry,
he tries to eat.
Consider a drawing: a three dimensional
drawing gives more detail than a one
dimensional drawing. This would be a round
If you draw a flat picture of a house, for
example, you can only see one side of it. You
cannot see three of the four sides. This is
how a flat character is; you can only see a
few characteristics of the character. There are
many things you cannot "see", or many
details you are not given by the author.
The key word when dealing with the
difference between static and dynamic
characters is "change."
The type of change, though, is specific.
We are only concerned with internal
changes; changes which occur within
the character. These would include a
major change in their personality, or a
change in their outlook on life. Another
important change that a character may
undergo is a change in values, or it
could be an overall change in the
nature of the character. Do not focus
on changes that happen TO a
character, but rather, changes that
happen WITHIN a character. Think
about it this way: Does the event affect
the character by changing the
A dynamic character is one that under
goes change during the course of the plot.
Change that applies to allow the
character to be dynamic are changes in
insight or understanding, changes in
commitment, and changes in values.
Changes in circumstance do not apply
unless the change has caused the
character to change within itself.
Let’s go back to Finding Nemo. Marlin is a
dynamic character. At the beginning of the
story, he is very over protective and
barely lets Nemo do anything without him.
By the end of the story, he learns a
valuable lesson about letting go and
trusting in his son’s abilities.
Static Character: A static
character is one that no change
is applied to during the course
of the story.
Static characters are usually
background or secondary
characters so that they can
serve as thematic or plot
elements. However, sometimes
static characters can be the
main ones such as Tom and
Daisy from The Great Gatsby.
They do not change their
qualities of carelessness but
move away from their problems
as they did before.