We all wonder what characters we should have in our story. Is it overdone? To clique? Maybe it doesn’t convey the theme of your story well. Every genre has its guidelines, but many have crossover. Every book has wither a hero or villain of some sort. Normally there are secondary characters somewhere; either a sidekick, friend, or relative. Here are twelve options to add balance to your story and hook your reader.
1. The Hero: Must be dynamic. Seeks to improve the world. Is strong and competent even if they don’t believe it. Are courageous and may have hesitations, but will become willing to take on the challenge needed. Great character examples of this are Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins. Both didn’t think they were ready, but stepped up to change things and do what is right.
2. The Lover: Seeks relationships, both romantic and friendships. Fears being unwanted. Is usually the friend character or the sidekick. They are more awkward than the main character and their short comings make it clear they can’t achieve the overall goal without The Hero.
3. The Sage: Seeks out knowledge. Is intelligent and analytical. They use their skills to seek the truth. The Sage has skills that The Hero needs, but can easily overpower The Hero. A good example of this combination is Sherlock and Watson. In that case Sherlock, is the main character and The Sage, and Watson is the sidekick but plays rolls in both The Lover and The Hero categories.
4. The Innocent: Tries to do the right thing. Fears being punished. Is usually naïve. This is usually a very sympathetic character. They are easily led on and usually end up on the wrong side.
5. The Magician: Visionary. Capable of working out puzzles and complex situations giving them the power to manipulate the people around them. Is charismatic. Great examples of this is Dumbledore from Harry Potter and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. These are lesser characters that use their abilities to guide The Hero in the right direction.
6. The Creator: Seeks to realize a vision. Perfectionist. Has bad solutions. This is usually a protagonist. An example would be Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. He wanted to save their world, but by killing another.
7. The Rebel: Radical. Seeks revenge. Fears being powerless. This character usually has only one focus and will jeopardize other characters lives and his/her own to achieve their goals. This character can be a good guy, a bad guy, or both.
8. The Ruler: Desires control, power, and authoritarianism. This character can be presented at many levels from parent to full fledged ruler. This character will get in the way of The Hero but usually will not be the main protagonist.
9. The Caregiver: Desires to protect. Helps others. Is caring and compassionate. This character usually takes one of two roles; Sidekick to The Hero who will help The Hero, but need protecting, or be a more minor character that The Hero cares about a will either help The Hero or be a driving force for The Hero to achieve their goals.
10. The Explorer: Follows their heart. Never is bored. Seeks to be their own person and is often a loaner. They are usually good characters thrown into The Hero’s path to teach them something or guide them someway.
11. The Jester: Lives in the moment. Practical joker. Seeks socialization. This character can be The Hero’s friend and sometimes the best friend, but makes clear they don’t have the skills to help The Hero achieve their goals. This is your Pippin to your Frodo.
12. The Orphan: Desires to belong somewhere. Can easily lose track of who they are. Very empathetic. This character isn’t necessarily an orphan, but they feel alone. They will seek friendship from The Hero. This character will help where they can and can push The Hero forward or be someone The Hero wants to help or protect. They usually have a smaller arch from being alone to finally finding friendship or family. They also can have more interaction with other lesser characters.
Good Duo Combinations
Romance- The Hero and The Lover
Mystery- The Hero and The Sage
Comedy- The Hero and The Jester
Horror- The Hero and The Rebel
Children- The Hero and The Orphan
Adventure- The Hero and The Explorer
Good Guy Bad Guy Duos
Romance- The Hero and The Ruler
Mystery- The Hero and The Rebel
Comedy- The Hero and The Jester
Horror- The Hero and The Creator
Children- The Hero and The Ruler
Adventure- The Hero and The Creator
Sit down and pretend you’re interviewing a character from your novel. Document the best answers you think they would give in their voice and then write it out as if it really happened.
So, Imagine, you and your character are sitting down for a personal one on one interview. Chairs are comfy. The door is closed. You have a pad of paper, pen, and a list of questions. Some nice and some very naughty.