It’s important to develop the personalities of the characters in your stories lest they all end up sounding like slight variations of the same person.
Before exploring personality types, we need to know the important character roles for an effective story. You won’t use them all. For example, you usually won’t need both a hero and anti-hero.
The Main Character
The person we follow or who tells the story.
The character that moves the story forward.
The main character and protagonist as the same person.
A cowardly, antisocial, or honor-less protagonist.
A character who points out the protagonist’s weak or dark side and challenges them to face it.
The villain of your story. Usually a person, but can be extreme weather, natural disasters, the economy, or an internal enemy (detachment, addiction, greed, lust, anger, etc.).
The Obstacle Character
A character who prevents the protagonist from achieving their goal. They could be allied with either the protagonist or the antagonist.
An effective, subordinate companion of a leader, the hero, or the villain.
CHARACTER PERSONALITY TYPES
These are stereotypes. When used for important characters, you should modify them or add contradictions to make them more interesting. Some are gender specific, but don’t let that stop you from using them for the opposite gender.
The Absent-Minded Professor
An intellectual who is so wrapped up in their thoughts they forget obvious everyday things.
The Battle Axe
A domineering and disagreeable woman.
A dumb pretty woman.
Makes things happen, sometimes without fully understanding why the protagonist or antagonist wants them to happen. May misunderstand what is wanted and do the wrong thing.
A competitive underdog. Never able to best the big dog and may be the big dog’s motivation to keep improving.
A character who raises objections to almost everything out of either stupidity, pragmatism, or politics. Their objections are almost always wrong.
Easily persuaded to do things when confronted by a threat.
An enemy who gives a character strength because they must go beyond their limits to defeat him.
Wants to be the first to know and share everything.
The Femme Fatal
A beautiful, but mischievous and traitorous woman.
Lives each day like it is their last. Often has many addictions.
The Hero Wannabe
They are so determined to be the hero that they overlook what it means to be heroic and may go over to the dark side.
A reckless risk taker.
A male athlete, muscular, but not very smart.
The Jolly Fat Man
A fun loving fat guy who usually has money. May also enjoy fighting.
The Lone Vigilante
A loner who becomes a vigilante for justice.
Everything goes wrong for them. Their luck is always bad.
The Loveable Rogue
They break the law for personal profit, but their victims are bad people. They usually don’t kill anyone.
Influences people and situations for their own goals using deceit.
Wants to suffer or die for other people or a cause. Referred to as “the hanged man” if they actually die to help the protagonist succeed.
The Mother’s Boy
A man who is overly attached to his mother.
A socially-impaired, obsessive, or overly-intellectual person. Often interested in doing well in school and reading books.
The Over Man or Super Man
A character who is constantly exceeding their limits in order to grow as a person.
A person in the habit of immoral conduct.
The Reluctant Hero
A person who doesn’t consider themselves a hero or seek adventure, but is pushed into heroic deeds by people or circumstances.
The Reluctant Monster
A character who does damage while attempting to do good.
Looks out for himself above everyone else. Will not take risks for the sake of someone else unless there’s something in it for him.
May be an actual slave or an employee trapped in servitude due to a weak economy or their own bad choices.
The Story Teller
A character who tells one or more interesting stories within the novel. A story may be used to help the reader understand a group, a society, or a character’s motivation. A story may also be used to move the novel’s plot forward.
A self-seeking flatterer close to someone in power.
A girl who acts like a boy.
An unassailable character, usually the villain. To overcome the tower, the protagonist will need to get through a seemingly endless number of blocks. The blocks may be people, distance, bureaucracy, physical obstacles, or all of these.
The Town Bully
A bully who oppresses the meeker residents of a town. This is usually the mayor, sheriff, a religious leader, or rich businessperson.
The Tragic Hero
A hero with a weakness that leads to their death or defeat.
The Supreme Warrior
An intelligent fighter who can beat anyone at hand-to-hand and armed combat. Usually has a police or military background; sometimes both. In pulp fiction, the protagonist and antagonist are often both supreme warriors.
Lives their life based on the fear that a past hurt will be repeated.
The Village Idiot
A person with a reputation as an idiot who may actually be intelligent, brave, and good.
An unsophisticated and poorly educated country person.
This list of stereotypes is not the whole list of possibilities. That list would be endless. Between this list and some thought about real people you’ve met, you should be able to imagine some unique personalities and avoid similar character types in your stories.
For another angle on character types, check out my previous post, 13 Character Archetypes.
Article by Ivan Izo.