Main Character

Should you change your main character? What is the importance of a character who grows? I read this list of generic character descriptions online by Melanie Anne Phillips, and thought maybe it would help with deciding what is the theme/journey of your main character to help them to their “moment of truth.”

1. The Steady Freddy: This kind of Main Character starts out with a fixed belief about the central personal issue of the story. Act by Act, Scene by Scene, he gathers more information that leads him to question those pre-held beliefs. His hold on the old attitude gradually weakens until, at the Moment of Truth, he simply steps over to the other side – or not. This kind of character slowly changes until he is not committed to either his original belief or the alternative. It all comes down to which way the wind is blowing when he ultimately must choose one or the other.

2. The Griever: A Griever Main Character is also confronted with building evidence that his original belief was in error. But unlike Steady Freddy, this character suffers a growing internal conflict that starts to tear him apart. The Griever feels honor-bound or morally obligated to stick with his old loyalties, yet becomes more and more compelled to jump ship and adopt the new. At the end of the story, he must make a Leap of Faith, choosing either the old or the new, with such a balance created that there is not even a hint as to which way would ultimately be better.

3. The Weaver: The Weaver Main Character starts out with one belief system, then shifts to adopt the alternative, then shifts back again, and again, and again…. Like a sine wave, he weaves back and forth every time he gathers new information that indicates he is currently in error in his point of view. The intensity of these swings depends upon the magnitude of each bit of new information and the resoluteness of the character.

4. The Waffler: Unlike the Weaver, the Waffler jumps quickly from one point of view to the other, depending on the situation of the moment. He may be sincere but overly pragmatic, or he may be opportunistic and not hold either view with any real conviction.

There are also two kinds of characters who change, but not really.

5. The Exception Maker: This character reaches the critical point of the story and decides that although he will retain his original beliefs, he will make an exception “in this case.” This character would be a Change character if the story is about whether or not he will budge on the particular issue, especially since he has never made an exception before. But, if the story is about whether he has permanently altered his nature, then he would be seen as steadfast, because we know he will never make an exception again. With the Exception Maker, you must be very careful to let the audience know against what standard it should evaluate Change.

6. The Backslider: Similar to the Exception Maker, the Backslider changes at the critical moment, but then reverses himself and goes right back to his old belief system. In such a story, the character must be said to change, because it is the belief system itself that is being judged by the audience, once the moment of truth is past and the results of picking that system are seen in the denoument. In effect, the Backslider changes within the confines of the story structure, but then reverts to his old nature AFTER the structure in the closing storyTELLING.

Article found at: