Characters Every Book Should Have

By on July 17, 2020

Your characters are crucial to ensuring your story is a success. The plot is essential, and the setting is critical; the theme is central, and the point of view is necessary. However, no part of your story is more important than the characters. 

Characters drive your story forwards; they carry the plot, they experience your fictional world, and interact with the environment around them. They reveal your theme, and without lifelike, engaging, inspiring characters for the reader to engage with, you won't have much of a story at all. 

Deciding on the types of characters to include in your story is crucial. What's important is to ensure that your characters are all individual and unique and that they all play an essential part in driving your plot forward.

So what characters does every story need? Let's take a look:

The protagonist

Your protagonist is your main character. The story is about him and will unravel from his point of view. The protagonist must be flawed but engaging, and they must make mistakes. It is possible to choose more than one protagonist for your story.

They are important because their responses will define what happens in the story, and the circumstances they endure will affect how they change, what they desire, and how they learn and grow. Your readers need to care about your protagonist and what happens to them. 

The antagonist

The antagonist is the person who 'antagonizes' your protagonist. They are there to make life difficult for them, to get in the way, to create obstacles. In a more traditional story, they would be considered the 'bad guy.' But just as your protagonist is flawed, your antagonist can be layered and complicated too. In fact, being purely evil might make him difficult to relate to, and the focus should instead be on the role he plays in your protagonist's story, he moves against him. The question of whether your protagonist will find a way to overcome him is what has readers gripped to the very end of the story. 

The sidekick

The sidekick is the character who moves alongside the protagonist. They are supportive, but also allow the story to be seen from a different perspective, a new angle. They should be loyal and act as someone to question the protagonists' decisions when they might make the wrong move. 

The mentor

The mentor is someone that the protagonist turns to for advice, they are experienced, wise, and willing to help - though not always without cost. They are essential because they act as a guide leading the protagonist in the right direction; they teach the protagonist how to make good choices and will be influential in how they change. 

The skeptic

The skeptic will be the one who creates problems for the protagonist because they don't support what the protagonist wants to do. They might think the journey is too risky and too dangerous, they'll point out what's at stake and who might get hurt. They add depth and dimension to the story; they are the voice of reason and help to heighten emotion and drama. 

These five characters should appear in every story and bring variety, depth, and excitement to the plot. Make sure that each of these characters has a purpose, has a unique identity, and follows a character arc. Remember, a compelling plot can only serve you so well, and it is the characters above that will resonate with your readers and stay with them long after they've finished your book. 

About Beth Cadman

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