"Types" of Characters in Fiction

Confused about which character type to use? Here's a quick rundown!

Round character, flat character, stock character, protagonist . . . the types of characters in fiction go on and on. What do you need to know about each one as you study literature or learn to write it? Find out with the list below.

Please note that some of these character types are ones to be avoided (or handled delicately) rather than be utilized. Don't be discouraged if you receive critiques telling you that your character is flat. Instead, take it as a challenge, and see how emotionally complex and detailed you can make your characters.

Ready to get started working on characterization, creating your own round characters? These questions can help.

Flat Characters

Housewife at Dinner Table Looking Sad
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Flat characters are minor characters in a work of fiction who do not undergo substantial change or growth in the course of a story. Learn more about flat characters and how they differ from round characters. More

Static Characters

When people say that a character is "static," they're referring to the fact that a character doesn't change. (Sound familiar? There's a good reason for that.) More

Round Characters

As a writer, your focus will be on developing your round characters. For readers, these are the characters you'll put the most effort into following and understanding. Round characters are multi-dimensional and complex. They are nuanced and often contradictory. More

Dynamic Characters

The opposite of static characters, dynamic characters will undergo some kind of change in the course of the story. More

Stock Characters

Many people think the term "stock characters" is just another way to describe static characters, but not so. Stock characters are often stereotypical. They are difficult to pull off in fiction unless you are writing satire, and even then, there must be much thought behind including a stock character in your narrative. More


Protagonists are the "main" characters in your fiction. They are "round" characters which the reader often sympathizes with or roots for. However, they are not always completely moral or likeable.

Protagonists should be complex and flawed. A big mistake that many beginning writers make is to worry too much about whether their protagonist is likeable. Of bigger importance is whether or not the protagonist is relatable. The reader needs to believe the character, and understand their choices. More


The antagonist is essential to many works of literature, and is also known as "the bad guy." The antagonist is the person who is preventing the protagonist from getting what he wants or needs.

An antagonist should also be a "round character." Simply making an antagonist evil is not as interesting as making him or her conflicted. Pure evil is very hard to believe in fiction: people are multi-faceted and inspired by their own situations and back stories. Therefore, putting time into describing your antagonist and showing his or her own struggles will make for a richer and more complex narrative. Just as a protagonist should not only be good (white), an antagonist should not only be bad (black). More

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