Tag Archives: main character

Static versus Round

Every storytelling aspect can be applied to real life, in different ways. Tropes, climax, conflict, heroes and anti-heroes, and, most of all, round (or dynamic) and static characters.

I found this particularly true for the round and static character explanation over the past several months, but it got more into the dynamics and elements of storytelling itself with some fundamental things changing or being different than normal.

Static characters are not typically in the forefront of the story, for example. Every main character I’ve read has had a change of heart or a change of life and has handled it differently in the end than they would have in the beginning. They are round, and called such for the change, the fact that they are always curving and turning when you zoom in on the lines.

I digress, the fact is that there is a shift in view or perspective for those dynamic characters, they learn and in turn their actions change.

Recently, though, I realized that a friend of mine hadn’t changed much or at all, and her perspective, her reactions, her general disposition had all remained the same. When asked a question lately that she’d been asked years ago, her answer was the same.

People who are immovable in many ways are usually the secondary or tertiary characters, or in the background somewhere. They matter less because the main storyline relies on a lot of change, it relies on conflict creating a different view, it’s why you read the story in the first place, to see how something progresses. The definition of progress is ‘movement to a goal or further to a higher stage.’ How do you get there if your sights are in the same place?

Could a story technically still survive with a static character in the front? It becomes more about their struggles and their daily life and how they handle it. Sure, because you’re highlighting the way of life, there’s a message in there somewhere.

Then again, if that’s all you wrote, wouldn’t your writing become very limited?

Someone who is not open to learning or change is stifling the ability to become a better version of themselves. I mean those who outright refuse.

There is a story to be told there, but, as the name suggests, dynamic characters have a lot more possibilities.

I have to admit that I’ve never met someone so stubborn and unwilling to change, someone so against the idea. In 25 years, I’ve met one or two who don’t fully grasp the concept of learning and being shaped by ideas and the world around them. They understand it plenty, but they refuse to let it take hold.

The thought had me wondering about main characters, about stories and novels, and how many of the main characters don’t budge, don’t change or get shaped by the way their world moves. What kind of story does a character like that make for?

In contrast, a lot of my characters tend to be like me in that they thirst for knowledge. Some, like secondary or tertiary characters, aren’t given that much dimension, so they remain static. So there’s a difference there between refusal and not being given the chance.

Usually, how you hear about static characters is by the fact that they aren’t the ones the story’s changing is directed at. They aren’t going through conflict. They simply look on from the sidelines. They are a stationary piece of the puzzle themselves.

Which reminds me of Welcome to Nightvale’s deep quote from the other day: “Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.

Whether it’s a story you’re writing or your own story, static and dynamic characters are everywhere, and each have a place. Just as it is in what we write, our life has lessons for us, if we choose to see it that way. We are what the story makes us, if we’re willing to accept that.

What kind of character will you be?

-The Novice Wordsmith

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Secrets, Secrets, are No Fun…

I found myself yesterday trying to figure out how much a character would say about their past. To anyone, a stranger, or to someone they were very close with. How long would it take them to spill the beans about something important and personal to them?

Privacy is another factor that relegates how much is told about the character at one point, it’s what defines what other characters around them find out, and how they find out. It shapes the story, gives it more or less conflict, and puts a more obvious time stamp on what will be revealed when, and how.

It’s as simple as comfort, but if you take into consideration that some people feel the need to talk to others about heavy topics because they have no one else to talk to them about, it adds another dimension.

The inspiration for this comes from an experience where I was asked a bunch of more personal questions that I’d talk to a trusted friend about, and, they were someone I trusted and wanted to talk to about those things. Except, there was someone behind me who I didn’t care to let know anything about my life, personal or otherwise. When she found out certain things and started asking questions, I got prickly, and felt like walling up.

I noticed it was something I had a few of my heroes do before. You earn that trust, and the ability to know that information. Some are a little more lenient, though, deeming certain information able to be heard by others, some strangers, pending phrasing and vagueness.

So I guess the question then becomes about the trust issues the critters have.

And trust goes so much farther than just conversation, it is the basis of most actions and is why we do what we do most days. It builds into love, care, and affection, it’s a reason for effort and time spent, it’s what makes us want to go out of our way for others, to help.

Stepping back away from the psych side of things… I realize that another thing to consider is what they have to had. Whether it’s because they’re afraid of ridicule, or because they’d rather keep quiet than deal with reactions, good or bad. Maybe they’re tired of saying anything about it. After spending a day getting asked about an obvious injury, it’s not hard to imagine wanting to hide it so that the questions can finally stop.

Will something happen if they let the secret loose? It’s chaos in an instant, and suddenly the story is thrown for a loop and they’re trying to do damage control. Hah! But is that what you wanted all along? To find a way to get those secrets out in the first place, because the character is too walled up to let it out themselves?

Ultimately, it’s another side of them that makes them something more dynamic than just a vessel for a story to be told. They become easier to relate to,  to sympathize and empathize with both. Filling out their secrets and feeling out their boundaries is just another part to definition and development. A rather fun one, if you ask me.

-The Novice Wordsmith