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Character Interactions. Feature Menu. Connecting with Characters Main Characters Subordinate Characters Flat Characters versus Round Characters Dynamic Characters versus Static Characters Conflict Motivation Practice. Connecting with Characters. What draws readers into a story?.

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character interactions
Character Interactions

Feature Menu

  • Connecting with Characters
    • Main Characters
    • Subordinate Characters
    • Flat Characters versus Round Characters
    • Dynamic Characters versus Static Characters
  • Conflict
  • Motivation
  • Practice
connecting with characters
Connecting with Characters

What draws readers into a story?

Vivid, complex characters whose problems and triumphs draw forth our emotions and reveal some truth about humankind.

[End of Section]

main characters
Main Characters

Protagonist—the main character of a story.

  • The action of the story revolves around the protagonist and the conflict he or she faces.

Antagonist—the character or force the protagonist struggles against and must overcome.

[End of Section]

subordinate characters
Subordinate Characters

Subordinate characters add depth and complication to the plot.

Main character


[End of Section]

flat characters versus round characters
Flat Characters versus Round Characters

Flat characters

  • have only one or two character traits that can be described in a few words
  • have no depth, like a piece of cardboard
flat characters versus round characters6
Flat Characters versus Round Characters

Round characters

  • have many different character traits that sometimes contradict each other
  • are much like real people, with several sides to their personality

[End of Section]

dynamic characters versus static characters
Dynamic Characters versus Static Characters

Dynamic characters

  • change or grow as a result of the story’s actions
  • learn something about themselves, other people, or the world as they struggle to resolve their conflicts

The changes that a dynamic character undergoes contribute to the meaning of the story.

dynamic characters versus static characters8
Dynamic Characters versus Static Characters

Static characters

  • do not change or grow
  • are the same at the end of a story as they were in the beginning

Subordinate characters are often static characters.

[End of Section]


External conflict—struggle between a character and an outside force.

  • character versus character
  • character versus society
  • character versus nature

Internal conflict—struggle between opposing needs or desires or emotions within a character.

  • character versus himself
  • character versus herself

Quick Check

What type of conflict does the character face?

“Y’all git some stones,” commanded Joey now and was met with instant giggling obedience as everyone except me began to gather pebbles from the dusty ground. “Come on, Lizabeth.”

I just stood there peering through the bushes, torn between wanting to join the fun and feeling that it was a bit silly.

from “Marigolds” by Eugenia W. Collier

[End of Section]


Motivation—what drives a character’s actions. It

  • explains behaviors
  • reveals personality
  • is often based on character’s fears, conflicts, needs

Motivation can be inferred by observing characters’ behavior, speech, actions.

[End of Section]

  • Protagonist

Think of a story you’ve read in which the protagonist faces powerful conflicts. Use a chart like the one here to map out the conflicts and their resolutions, as well as the protagonist’s motivations.

  • Motivation
  • Motivation
  • Internal Conflict
  • External conflict and antagonist
  • Resolution
  • Resolution

[End of Section]