Assignment: Character Map
Even if you are not a big fan of reading, you should be able to appreciate the writer’s task. A writer will take an idea from his or her head and create a series of events that allow you to experience a character’s life. Before reading any stories, you will learn the main elements of fiction.
“One of my standard — and fairly true — responses to the question as to how story ideas come to me is that story ideas only come to me for short stories. With longer fiction, it is a character (or characters) coming to visit, and I am then obliged to collaborate with him/her/it/them in creating the story.” ~ Roger Zelazny
The characters are the people in a story. Characters can also be animals, creatures or even inanimate objects.Everything you learn about a character’s personality is called characterization. There are many types of characters in any given story, but an author strives to create well-developed characters. Here are some ways to classify characters:
Main vs. Minor
The main characters are the ones you learn the most about. Sometimes the main character is called the protagonist or the hero. The antagonist is the person who fights against, or has a problem with, the main character. Minor characters are everyone else in the story, or the people that interact with the main characters, but aren’t important to the action.
Static vs. Dynamic
A static character doesn’t change, while a dynamic character changes. Change here refers to a change of attitude or a different way of looking at things. Usually, the main character (protagonist) will undergo some kind of transformation (change) by the end of the story.
Round vs. Flat
A flat character doesn’t have depth - you know very little about him or her. A round character has depth — you know much about him or her. It would make sense that main characters are round. You want to know about them. It would also make sense that minor characters are flat. They are not important to the story, so why should you know that much about them?
For examples of this, think of the Spiderman movies. The main characters are Peter Parker, Mary Jane, his friend Harry, and the bad guys. Depending on which movie you’ve seen, the bad guys are Green Goblin, Doc Oc, Sandman and Venom. You could argue that Aunt May and Uncle Ben are main characters, but they are probably minor characters. All of the kids at Peter’s school, all of the people at the newspaper where Peter works, and all the people that Spiderman saves are minor characters. All of these minor characters are static and flat. For example, Uncle Ben dies, but his personality doesn’t change. By contrast, Peter Parker undergoes a transformation. At first, he changes from a geeky kid to having super human skills, but the real change is when he starts using his powers for good. Even the bad guys undergo a change. Granted, it’s as they are dying, but these bad guys realize that they used their powers for evil and are now sorry about it. After three movies, you can claim that Mary Jane is a round character, but for the most part the “love interest” in a movie is just that and not much more.
A character reveals himself or herself through his or her actions, words and thoughts. You also learn about characters through what other people in the story say and think about them. Use the following graphic organizer to help you understand the characters in a story:
Click here to view the Character Map.
Assignment: Read “Flags Waving” by Carolyn Steele Agosta. Pay attention to the characters in the story. Then click here to complete the blank graphic organizer for two of the main characters in the story.
Directions: Follow this link to the Short Story website: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories
You can find the specific short story by typing in the title of the story in the search box, which is located in the top right corner of the webpage.