Definition and Examples of Static Characters in Writing

Pride and Prejudice

Every story needs compelling characters, but not all characters need to be complex characters that evolve over time. Static characters, in a work of fiction, are characters who do not undergo substantial change or growth in the course of a story. They are important characters to the development of the story but they play a supporting role to the main characters, who, as a rule, are round, complex, and more evolved.

Both round characters (also known as dynamic characters), as well as static characters, can have unique personalities. However, it is the depth of their personalities that differentiates the two.

Although we don't generally strive to write static characters, they are almost always necessary for a story to unfold into rich layers. Take, for example, Mr. Collins in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. He serves a vital role in the story of how Elizabeth and Darcy end up getting together. He adds comedy to the story which is important, but his character stays essentially unchanged, and, in fact, that’s in part what makes him funny.

Lead Characters can be Static Characters

Static characters are the opposite of dynamic character. The personality of a static character when he or she is introduced is the same personality when the story ends. And, all the actions in between story true to that personality.

Another great example of a static character is the title character in Rip Van Winkle, a story you're most likely familiar with. When the reader meets Rip, he is a laid-back, idle man who neglects his household chores. After a 20-year nap, during which Rip's hometown drastically changes, his personality remains the same.

He finds his daughter, now grown up, and returns to his idle and shiftless life. Rip is a static character. Dynamic characters, on the other hand, are characters that change in some way. Static characters can be either commonplace or they can be compelling such as Sherlock Holmes, who is completely ingenious, eccentric and sometimes jerky, but he never changes.

Two Examples of Static Characters

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - Atticus Finch is a good example of a static character in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Although his attitude about his father changes, he shows the same fortitude in the courtroom, as he explains that he shot the dog earlier in the story. Finch exercises the same principle of seeing things from other people's perspectives throughout the narrative. 

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling - From the classics to fantasy novels that become smash hit film franchises, static characters are always a part of story-telling. Draco Malfoy is another good example of a static character in modern-day writing. Although he also dimly senses that Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters are evil, even though he continues to believe that Mulbloods and Muggles are to be disdained, he remains unchanged.

Creating complex, believable characters takes time and thought, of course. Before you start developing the outline of your story it will help if you answer these questions for developing characters.


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