Monday, July 13, 2015

Characters: The Others

Outside of the protagonists, antagonists, and the foils, many other terms describe variations for characters.  We can discuss antiheroes, static versus dynamic characters, flat versus round characters, sympathetic and unsympathetic characters, and about ten other classifications for characters.

All of these deserve discussion, but I don’t wish to continue on with characters for another three months.

One last point about characters that seems worthy to mention is the background characters.

The protagonist and the antagonist walk into a bar, and a bartender with exaggerated sharp features serves them.  All of the points in his face crisply react to the tension between the main characters, and the bartender, with his neatly plucked eyebrows, deep widow’s peak, and long eyelashes that might have a trace of mascara, might be an excellent villain.  Instead, his long arms and quick movements serve one purpose.  He makes martinis for the protagonist and antagonist.  He has no name, but he is a fully formed idea.

The protagonist and antagonist walk out onto the street and throw a few punches at each other.  An over-weight, bald man stops to stare at them.  He holds an ice cream cone, and remnants of the green tea stickiness is tangled in his scraggly beard.  He stops to stare at the fight as if he watches the latest video of Venturo playing Minecraft.  The green goo melts over his fingers and drips to the sidewalk.  He neither bothers to lick it nor considers throwing it away.  Eventually, he wonders away, too bored to continue watching, not having motivation to do much else, and apathetic about everything.

Point is, these background characters should not have names (this makes the reader try to remember them because they may show up again, as opposed to “the bartender,” or “the bald man”), but they can add so much to the plot and the background and the characters.  Of course, these characters may be crucial to events in the plot, may add depth to setting, and may act as foils for the main characters.

Background adds depth.  Background characters can add loads of depth. 

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