Character types

A character is a real or fantastic being, endowed with certain characteristics and that is part of a story (which may or may not be based on real events).

There are several types of characters in a story, novel or any narrative work. Their classification varies according to their degree of participation, the psychological characterization made by the author, their evolution within the plot, etc.

Character is a word that comes from the Greek πρόσωπον , which means mask, alluding to those used by theater actors in ancient Greece.

Character typesCharacteristics
According to your participation
  • Main
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary
  • They have a history.
  • They have a mission.
  • They have physical and psychological traits.
  • They have a vocabulary according to their context.
According to their role
  • Protagonists
  • Antagonists
  • Tritagonists
According to its characterization
  • plans
  • round
According to its evolution
  • Static
  • Dynamic
According to your picture
  • Archetype
  • Stereotype

Types of characters according to their participation

Depending on the relevance of their participation, the characters can be:

Main characters

They are those who actively intervene in the series of events that take place within history. The main characters are the ones who carry out the most complex tasks and most of the story depends on their actions.

Secondary characters

They are the ones who accompany the main character to carry out certain actions, or they can make decisions that will be decisive for the main character.

Tertiary characters

They are characters that appear in the story sporadically, or they are throughout the plot but their actions are not relevant to the development of the story. Therefore, it is usual that they are also flat characters.

Types of characters according to their role

Depending on the role they play within the story, there are three types of characters.


Their presence is essential in the plot, since all the relevant events revolve around them. So much so, that if the author decides to eliminate them from the story, it would be meaningless, since it could not be supported by the rest of the characters.


They are the type of character who expresses ideas or values ​​contrary to those of the protagonist, and their main function is to prevent him from fulfilling his objective within the plot.


In some cases, they are characters who have their own challenges. However, its relevance is less than that of the protagonist and the antagonist.

Types of characters according to their characterization

Depending on the complexity and detail with which the author describes the psychological traits of the characters, these can be of two types.

Flat characters

They are a type of character whose psychological traits are described in a very basic way. They are generally not much emphasized because they are usually secondary or tertiary characters.

Round characters

They have a greater psychological complexity. They are endowed with personality, motivations, doubts, expectations or have a past that can be explicitly or implicitly unraveled according to the author’s wishes.

Types of characters according to their evolution

Whether or not the characters show some type of development or change in their beliefs, values ​​or psychological characteristics, they can be:


They are characters that do not present any significant change, especially in their psychological traits. Your convictions or ideas remain the same throughout the plot.


They are characters whose psychological traits show a visible change as the plot progresses. This change can be positive (a villain who becomes good) or negative (a hero who becomes an antihero after suffering a loss).

Types of characters according to their image

Depending on the values ​​or characteristics they represent, the characters can be of two types:


These are characters that represent essential traits, values, qualities or ideas for the human being, such as beauty, love, goodness, evil, greed, war, madness, etc.


They are characters that have exaggerated psychological or physical traits, based on characteristics existing in certain groups of people, such as the bitter old man, the child abandoned in a box, the tyrant and corrupt ruler, the boy or girl with super abilities, etc.

See also Difference between short story and novel .

Character characteristics

Depending on the type of characters in a story, novel, play or narrative text, they will have certain traits. However, there are common characteristics in all of them:

They have a story

Whether it is described by the author or not, all characters have a context and a reason why they are present in the plot. Even secondary and tertiary characters, who do not seem to have a great influence on the plot, can have their own motivations and justifications for carrying out their actions.

They have a goal

The characters (especially secondary characters) must carry out specific actions that are part of a larger gear, which in most cases has to do with helping the main character to achieve his mission, which is the central objective of the story.

They have physical and psychological traits

The description of the characters is usually more abundant and complex according to their relevance. However, every time a character is mentioned in a story it is possible to know something about him (otherwise the reader could not know that he is present in the plot).

They have their own vocabulary

In real life, a member of royalty is not usually expressed the same as a person from the country. In the same way, good authors seek that each character has its own tone and vocabularies, according to the circumstances and characteristics of the characters. Otherwise, the story would lack verisimilitude.

See also:

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