We’re looking at static vs dynamic characters this week. You will find them a lot in any type of fiction and I’m going to relay this back to things we’ve talked about for the past two months.
As I am definition crazy, let’s start off with those. Here’s the one for static characters:
Static Character:a literary or dramatic character who undergoes little or no inner change; a character who does not grow or develop.
Here’s the one for dynamic characters:
Dynamic Character: a character who undergoes changes throughout a story, due to conflicts he encounters on his journey. A dynamic character faces trials and tribulations, and takes time to learn from his encounters, his experiences, and his mistakes, as well as from other characters.
So where do we see these types of characters? Well, static characters are generally supporting characters or villains of a story – they don’t change much over the course of the story. Dynamic characters are generally the protagonist of the story and they’re going to change – a lot. The biggest thing you need to remember is that these changes, or lack of change, are not explicitly expressed by the author. They’re going to be more subtle and happen over time.
Using dynamic and static characters helps you develop theme within your story. Usually, you’re also foiling the dynamic and static characters against one another to emphasize what theme you want to convey or character traits one may possess or not.
We’ll take Hamlet as an example. Hamlet is a dynamic character. He changes throughout the play. I want to leave this Thug Notes video here to go over the plot and some of the themes. I feel he does a good job explaining the themes of the play and how those all are connected to Hamlet himself. (Plus the video is funny and I wanted to share it.)
As for static characters, they can do the same thing, but without changing. Draco Malfoy, for example, never changed his ways or took the opportunity to grow when it was presented to him. So, when Harry was fighting for equality for all magical beings as he fought Voldemort, Draco contributed to the problem and compounded Rowling’s point about taking action against racist ideals.
So how do you write fantastic dynamic and static characters?
- Make them believable. I seriously cannot say this enough. I’m not going to want to read a story where I can’t identify or sympathize with the characters even a little bit. Add in things like back stories. Make them have believable goals. They are going to have humanistic qualities and goals!
- Dynamic characters:
- They’re flawed.
- Have preferences. It adds depth to your character. So where do they like to eat, who’s their best friend, etc.
- Have histories.
- Have enemies.
- They change.
- They may surprise you. Don’t make them boring. Make them fun and have them detour off of stereotypes and preset archetypes. Have them deal with things in ways the reader won’t anticipate — but keep it in line with their personality as well.
- Have them be culpable and responsible for their actions. This can help spark change in your character if they are the type that doesn’t take responsibility for the things they do. It can also make their suffering more poignant for their readers because they can sympathize and empathize with them more.
- They can do good and bad things. It keeps them interesting and makes them more human. Plus it’s a good way for you explore that characters flaws.
- Static characters:
- Make them interesting. Just because they don’t change by the end of the story doesn’t mean they have to be dull and boring. They can torture your hero in interesting ways. The best friend character an be lively and crazy.
- Give them a history and backstory. It can play out in how they act and react to other characters and situations around them.
- Treat them like any other character you create essentially. They need to be fleshed out, believable and behave like a person. They’re going to go face challenges or challenge others, but they’re not going to grow from it. They’re still going to be dynamic in certain ways to make them worthy of being in your story, to contributing to your plot, and in furthering your themes.
That’s it for this week! Next week we will be discussing round characters.
Until next week.