A character is someone in a story – a human, a fantastical or mythical creature. They could even be talking animals. Characters have character traits that define them and influence how they act in the story.
What are the different types of characters?
- Protagonist – The protagonist is the main character in a story and the person that the story is written about. The writer usually develops the plot around the protagonist. So, the story may revolve around something the protagonist wants to achieve or a problem they need to solve.
- Antagonist – This is a person that opposes or fights against another character (usually the protagonist). You might also know them by the term villain.
- Love Interest – A person whose primary role in the story is to fall in love with the protagonist.
- Foil – A character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) to highlight their qualities or progress the plot.
- Supporting Characters – the supporting characters can be anyone who isn’t the protagonist, antagonist, love interest, or foil. These might be the protagonist’s friends, family, or people they meet.
What role do characters play in a story?
Characters create the action, so they hugely impact the story. Without feelings, there would be no story at all! The plot depends on what the characters want to do, how they do it, and how they react to new situations.
The protagonist and antagonist have the most significant influence on the story’s progression. The story’s plot usually revolves around the protagonist. So, the plot will depend on the protagonist’s actions, where they’re going, and their end goal.
The antagonist’s goal is generally to thwart the protagonist’s plans (or vice versa). In this way, they’re linked. The protagonist and antagonist’s actions drive the story forward.
Characters also help us to feel connected to the story. They should be authentic and relatable – someone we believe we could meet in real life. This makes the reader more invested in the story and its outcome, especially if something dramatic happens to the characters.
Well-written characters should make the reader happy when the character is cheerful and sad when the character is sad. Think back to the stories you’ve read. Have you ever rooted for a character?
Let’s take a look at some character examples to understand them further. We’ll use Alice in Wonderland as the story example.
Protagonist – Alice is the protagonist of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. She’s curious and wants to explore the wonderful world she’s just discovered down the rabbit hole.
Antagonist – The Queen of Hearts is the antagonist of the story. A brutal and oppressive tyrant, she rules Wonderland. She believes Alice is guilty of stealing her tarts and demands she be beheaded.
Foil – Alice’s older sister is her foil. Where Alice has her head in the clouds and is always daydreaming, her older sister is shown to be grown-up and realistic.
Supporting Characters – Alice meets many supporting characters during her travels in Wonderland. A few examples include the following:
- the White Rabbit
- the Cheshire Cat
- the Caterpillar
- the Mad Hatter
- the Mock Turtle
How to Write a Character Poem
Character poems, also known as persona poetry, are poems where the poets take on the roles of people other than themselves. They write in the first or third person, sharing the character’s private thoughts.
Learning how to write a character poem is a fun and creative way to think in someone else’s shoes. In addition, it can help you pull together your thoughts and ideas for character description.
The first step to writing any poem is to decide what form your poem will take – are you interested in acrostic, haiku, or rhyme? Manipulating the form of a poem’s structure can help to mirror the character’s circumstances or personality. Commonly, character poems use free verse, as poets can create unique voices free from form.
Once you’ve decided on the form of your poem, you can begin to think about how to write a character poem.
Think of this as an invitation to a fancy dress party. Ask yourself, who are you going to go as? The word ‘persona’ comes from the Greek word for ‘mask.’ So, you might like to think of character poems as wearing a mask and taking on someone else’s identity.
Channel the voice of the character you’ve planned. Think about their voice and how they react to specific experiences. How do they speak, and what kind of language do they use?
Character poems can be compelling, stirring up many emotions in people! To bring your character poem to life, it’s essential to consider the poem’s significance and what message you want to share with your readers.