Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Characters

Without conflict there is no story (or plot, I will use these two words interchangeably), only a sequence of events that may or may not be related to one another.

Thus, one of the requirements for a well-told story is conflict. This requirement creates the need to have exactly three distinct story elements.
Two (2) characters fighting over one (1) thing. (2+1=3)

But as my friend Chris White mentions in a post on his blog, for him plot = character. In other words, it is the interaction of characters that define the story.

Two characters fighting over one thing, while potentially riveting in a short story, is quite a challenge to sustain over an entire full-length novel. The story is greatly improved when others get involved in the battle for the unique object that is the ultimate story goal.

As a writer, you must be cautious not to overcrowd the story with too many characters.

How many is too many? That is a hard question to answer. Instead, let me give you the minimum number of characters you need for a fully developed story.

The Hero (Protagonist) – The central character of the story. This is who the story is about.

The Sidekick (Protagonist Supporter) – Brings attributes to the Hero’s side of the story (i.e. comic relief) without altering the Hero’s personality.

The Villain (Antagonist) – Competitor for the object. This is why the story is taking place in the first place. The stronger and more capable the Villain, the better the story.

The Henchman (Antagonist Supporter) – Villain’s version of the Sidekick.

The Companion (Love Interest involved with Protagonist / Antagonist / Both) – Has a connection to both the Hero and the Villain and does not need to be sexual in nature.

The Object – Single (often one-of-a-kind) object that only one person can possess at a time and has the following attributes:

- It will give the Villain the power to get what he/she wants
- It will give the Hero the power to stop the Villain

And there you have it. These six elements give you all you need to create a fully developed story. Use them wisely.

1 comment:

  1. And the back story characters are needed in some cases where the plot is immense...the fillers as I like to call them...LOL However, I agree...too many characters and you get bogged done and the plot looses its focus~!! Great article Steve~!! Have yourself a groovy day and keep on writing...peaces...xoxo