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Characters in storytelling

Cartoon characters
Popular cartoon and comic book characters. This image is from Quora, I don’t know the original page.

Characters are an essential element of storytelling. They are the people, animals, or creatures that the story revolves around, and they help to drive the narrative forward. Characters can be complex and multi-dimensional, or they can be simple and one-dimensional. They can be heroic, villainous, or somewhere in between.

The role of characters in storytelling is to provide a vehicle for the audience to connect with the story. Characters are the emotional anchors of the story, and they help the audience to become invested in the plot. The audience cares about what happens to the characters, and they become emotionally invested in their struggles and triumphs.

Characters also help to develop the themes of the story. The choices that characters make, and the consequences of those choices, can help to explore the larger themes and messages of the story. In some cases, the characters may even represent larger ideas or concepts, and the story may use them as a metaphor for larger societal issues.

From Author Learning Center: The Five Major Character Types in Storytelling: “The most important thing when building your cast of characters, per WGA Screenwriter, author, and MFA educator, Michael Tabb, is that each one serves a purpose. In addition, these characters need to revolve around your premise, which is your theme or message. What are you trying to say with your work? To execute on this premise, you must create a cast of characters to act out your points. Tabb believes every good story should contain five primary character types: 1) the protagonist, 2) the antagonist, 3) the mentor, 4) the ally, and 5) the love interest. From there, you must build the plot, the problem at hand, and the goal or drive of the story to bring together your vision.”

Another version of Character archetypes is by Vladimir Propp. From Media Studies: “Vladimir Propp claimed characters could be defined by their “spheres of action” and the role they played in the progression of the story. After studying 100 fairy tales in tremendous detail, he identified seven archetypes: the villain, the donor, the helper, the princess, the dispatcher, the hero, and the false hero.” (follow above link for more detail)

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Page by M Alan Kazlev, 2023