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9 Character Types to Include in Your Story

The Book Designer

Recently, someone on Twitter asked me how he could make his characters more three-dimensional.

For me, it’s one of those things that evolves organically over time. Something as small as the outfit that someone wears or the way they phrase a sentence can trigger my mind to create a character.

The more characters you create, the easier it becomes.

But there are some types of characters that every story must have.

Once you’re aware of character type, you’ll find yourself noticing it more and more in what you read and watch. You can then use this awareness to study that character and see what elements you can use in your own writing.

Knowing what role your characters play in your story helps you to refine your plot, choose your narrative style, and tighten your prose.

So, let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

Protagonist (main character)

This is the person your story revolves around.

Most of the time they’ll also be your narrator, but not always.

For example, in The Great Gatsby, Gatsby is the protagonist, but Nick is the narrator.

The majority of books only have one protagonist. It is possible to have more than one, but you need to be incredibly organised if this is the way you want to go. I would advise avoiding this at all costs for your first writing project. It doesn’t matter how much you love your story or characters, you will get confused. (I speak from experience.)

Work on your writing skills first, then work on a story with a complicated plot.


A deuteragonist is the second-in-command to your protagonist. You might call them a sidekick. I don’t like that word, because it makes them seem less important. This person is very important.

It took me a while to admit that Fayth is the deuteragonist in What Happens in New York, while Hollie is the protagonist. Deuteragonists can still have a significant role in your story, even if the story doesn’t fully revolve around them.

Serena is the deuteragonist to Gossip Girls’ Blair; Han Solo is the deuteragonist to Star Wars’ Luke.

They’re not the same as a secondary character.

Antagonist (villain)

An antagonist is the person or thing that causes your protagonist all the drama. It doesn’t have to be a person, though. Antagonists can be internal, too. Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or stress can cause just as many problems for your protagonist as another person or creature with an axe to grind.

Love interest

This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the person your protagonist is destined to fall in love with. Even if only temporarily.

You may wish to toy with your readers by having your protagonist and love interest not get together, but be careful because if you drag this out for too long it can get frustrating and cause you to lose people.

Usually they’re a secondary character, but sometimes they can also be a deuteragonist and even a narrator, too.


The mentor is the person that guides your protagonist through their journey (whatever that may be).

Dumbledore and Obi-Wan Kenobi are two of the most famous mentor examples out there.

And, like Dumbledore and Obi-Wan, most mentors die at some point during the story. Usually when the protagonist thinks that they need him or her the most.


A narrator is the person who tells your story.

If you’re writing in first person, this will likely be your protagonist. Your deuteragonist may also be a narrator.

If you’re writing in third person, you are your narrator.

But, unless it’s part of your writing style (like Dickens in A Christmas Carol), you don’t want your reader to be aware of this. You still want them to forget all about you and focus on the actions of your characters.

Secondary character

A secondary character is the one who joins your hero for their journey.

Sometimes there’s more than one, but if you have more than two, you’re going to start overcomplicating things.

(See previous point about having too many protagonists.)

Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter are good examples of secondary characters. They’re three-dimensional, but it’s clear that the story doesn’t revolve around them. They’ll do anything they can to help the Harry, though.

Subplots often revolve around secondary characters, such as Hermione’s creation of S.P.E.W..

Tertiary character

We know less about tertiary characters than protagonists or secondary characters, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t still care about them or want to know more.

Many of the teachers at Hogwarts, such as Lupin, fall into this category.

They’re not central to the story, and they’re not along for the ride. They may, however, play a crucial role in a part of the protagonist’s journey, such as Lupin teaching Harry about dementors.

Flat character

A flat character is someone we don’t need to know anything about. They’re in one scene, maybe two.

They don’t really help to move the story along, but they do help your protagonist with something or other.

Everything from bartenders to pets can be flat characters.

Even though they’re called flat characters, that doesn’t mean that they have to be lacking in personality. You can still make them interesting by giving them their own way of speaking or a memorable mannerism.


Not every story will include every type of character.

Most stories outside of fantasy and sci-fi don’t have mentors, for example.

Stories with just one protagonist and point of view don’t need a deutarogonist.

But the more you’re aware of the different character types, the more you can make a better informed decision about which character types you need to include in your story.

Over to You

What’s your favourite type of character to write and why?

Inspire a friend
Category:Fiction, Writing
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Kristina Adams

Kristina Adams is an author of fiction and nonfiction, writing and productivity blogger, and occasional poet. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Derby and an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University. When she's not writing she's reading, baking, or finding other ways to destroy the kitchen. She can be found under a pile of books with a vanilla latte.


  • […] Adams presents 9 Character Types to Include in Your Story posted at The Writer’s […]

  • […] Adams presents 9 Character Types to Include in Your Story posted at The Writer’s […]

  • […] Try to keep your team small if you’re writing fiction. Focus on the most important ones and have the other characters as secondary, tertiary, or flat characters. […]

  • 19th July, 2018 at 18:12

    You forgot the most important examples: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay.
    Protagonist: Katniss Everdeen
    Peeta Mellark
    Deuteragonist: Jackson to Boggs
    Antagonist: President Snow
    Love interest: Peeta Mellark
    Gale Hawthorne
    Mentor: Haymitch Abernathy
    Narrator: Katniss Everdeen
    Secondary Character: Gale Hawthorne
    Primrose Everdeen, etc.
    Terciary character: Katniss’ mother, etc
    Flat character: No idea, but I know that there are a lot.
    Thanks for letting me introduce you to my favorite books and movies.
    I used this page for the final english proyect (a short story that includes all members of the family).

  • 14th September, 2018 at 18:57
    Aries Grey

    This really helped me a lot! Thanks for writing this great advice! 😀

  • 18th September, 2018 at 16:23

    I Prot-agonised over this for a while, but it wasn’t Antagonistic… my favourite type of character is always the one I’m creating at the moment. Like people, I tire of my characters easily and when I find one that endears and endures… I’ve found one I can play with. I liked the definite boundaries here, but I could never keep any of my ‘people’ in such well-defined boxes… fascinating and I have learned a new word; Deuteragonist. It occurs that the main characters seem to have agony in their lives. Perhaps that’s obvious. Thank You for the words.

  • 15th February, 2019 at 14:00

    its amazing how words can describe people as either of those…especially when looks can be deceiving in some cases. like one person can play the victim and the mean while their partner is the victim. thats what i play over in my head.. how can one be so selfish to describe someone as such when they know all to well what their doing. minipulation is what i see fit. i knew this couple once,then i wrote about them. they were close friends of mine. eventually i let them read it.. and they were shocked because its from a different person… by the time she went over it in her mind she realized that something that she has been fighting for has always been fighting against her. what she built…the foundation she had to rebuild every time he broke it was exhausting..

  • […] These are three of the top types of characters. For a full list, visit: https://www.writerscookbook.com/character-types-story/ […]

  • 11th May, 2019 at 23:02

    BOYS IM FULLY WRITTING A BOOK like im 14 (turning 15 on monday gang gang) AND IM SO EXCITED!!! So no doubt imma b checkin out dis website hella much over the next year or so. So gang gang. My minimum amount of pages is gonna be 100 so i dont have to squeeze and i dont have to stretch. if u have any advice dm me on insta (@caelee_)

  • 30th May, 2019 at 00:33

    Thanks for all that advise. I’m 12 and I’ve been trying to write story. Me and my cousin started one and she is 13. She’s an amazing story writer but I just can’t get it. Now that shared that info I can finally finish a story. Again. A big thanks!!

  • 10th September, 2019 at 22:22
    Ramona Flowers

    Solid list… but what about the contagonist? The opposite of the mentor. The character that stands in the protagonist’s way. Such as the iconic Darth Vader.



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