We’re talking about flat and stock characters today. Yes, there is going to be a difference between the two of them and it’s going to be a subtle difference. So why don’t we start off with the definitions of both types of characters and then we’ll break them down.
Flat Character: is a character that does not change too much from the start of the narrative to its end. Flat characters are often do not have any emotional depth.
Functions of a flat character:
- The role of flat characters is to support the main character.
- They do not go through a substantial growth or transformation in the course of the narrative.
- They have recognizable characteristics that make them appear stereotypical.
- They are often referred to as one- or two-dimensional characters, usually having one perspective or point of view about life, things, or events.
Stock Character: is a stereotyped character that shows up in certain genres in literature. They’re generally flat characters that the reader will recognize immediately.
Functions of a stock character:
- Easy to recognize. You know who they are and where their story lines are going to take them.
- Doesn’t need much or any fleshing out by the author.
- Support the main character(s).
- They don’t go through a transformation or do any kind of growing over the narrative.
So like I said these guys are pretty similar in their definitions. Stock characters are the ones you’re going to recognize right away – they’re the damsel in distress, the faithful sidekick, the hooker with a heart of gold, etc. Flat characters don’t necessarily fall into the category of stereotypical. They can have a bit of depth to them, but not enough that they’re going to change and become a dynamic or round character.
The main difference between the two is that stock characters are very genre specific. You’ll find flat characters in every type of story on the other hand.
So how do we write good flat and stock characters? Here are my tips:
- Flat Characters:
- They’re going to have to be believable – just like your protagonist. They’re going to want to seem realistic and like they’re a real person, but just not too the degree that your protagonist is going to be. You’re not going to need to know every little detail about them.
- Make sure they play into your themes or highlight key features of your main characters. Flat characters are there to foil the main characters or to provide support to them. They also can help you point out themes and major ideas in your story. For example, Draco Malfoy doesn’t change throughout the series, but he does help point out to the reader that purity in society is a bad idea.
- Stay away from stereotypes. Or if you have to use them then break them. make them unique.
- Stock Characters:
- Follow my suggestions from above. 🙂
- It’s about taking the stereotype and turning it on it’s head – don’t have them blossom as the reader is expecting them to do in a certain way. (This post by Daily Writing Tips has some good tips for unpacking some of the different stock character types.)
That’s all that I have for you this week. Next week we are going to be talking about the Confidante Character.
Until next week.