Flat Character Arc

Flat Character Arc: How to Write It Well [5 Modern-Day Examples Included]

A flat character arc is a less-common arc used in literary fiction and nonfiction, as well as movies and TV shows. While dynamic character arcs are compelling in their dramatic change, shift, or focus, flat character arcs can be equally powerful when used well.

The term flat character arc can be used interchangeably with the term static character arc. You may be used to crafting dynamic characters with big changes, so let’s dive into flat character arcs and how you can use them to write a compelling story. In this article we discuss:

Remember, good writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, uses a myriad of tools to communicate to readers. Just as it’s difficult to portray a truly heroic protagonist without a truly evil villain, without flat characters, it’s difficult to show the dichotomy of dynamic characters. 

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

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What Is A Flat Character Arc?

The definition of a flat character arc is a bit dependent on who defines it. 

  • The Novel Smithy defines them as, “Flat arcs are still character arcs, but instead of growing and changing as a character, flat arc characters stay the same. Instead, their journey is about learning to uphold their inner truth in a world that doesn’t accept it, allowing them to overcome the external conflict along the way.”
  • Studio Binder defines them as, “Flat characters, often called stock characters, never deviate from their rather simple traits. They are the opposite of ‘round characters’ who have complex personalities and change throughout the course of a story. Flat characters are often used to support main characters in a story.” 
  • Literary Devices defines them as, “A flat character is a type of character in fiction that does not change too much from the start of the narrative to its end.” 
  • Master Class says, “A flat arc is a much less common form of character arc that can mostly be found in action and thriller stories.”

Regardless of your exact definition for a flat character arc, this specific arc can be just as compelling as a dynamic character arc. Sometimes it is more difficult for a character to hold true to who they are in difficult circumstances than it is to give in to change. Of course, the arc you give your character is largely dependent on your story’s plot and the goal of your protagonist. 

For nonfiction, keep the above definitions in mind. If you are writing your memoir, consider what your personal journey has been and what type of arc best demonstrates it. If you’re writing a self-help book or an educational book, the basics of character arc can still be applied to the examples you use and the goals you have for your readers.

What is the message of your book? Do you want readers to walk away changed (dynamic character arc) or stand strong in who they were when they first started your book (flat character arc)?

When To Write A Flat Character Arc?

When to write a character arc depends on the message of your story. If you write fiction, a good place to start is with your protagonist. Do you want him to change by the end of the story, or be the same person as he was on page one? A flat character arc does not mean there is no growth. Sometimes it takes more strength to stay the same than it does to change, especially in difficult circumstances. 

If you write fiction, consider the power a flat character arc may have on your protagonist if he has a dynamic character arc. Sometimes the most powerful way to demonstrate change is by showing a lack of change in another character. This dichotomy acts as a mirror, revealing the opposite in a secondary character and shining a spotlight on the dramatic change of your protagonist. 

For nonfiction, the same is true. If you write a self-help book, consider using varying examples of character arcs, flat and dynamic, to demonstrate the positives and negatives of your message. If you write a book on how to be financially independent, consider demonstrating the power of staying within your budget even when surrounded by people who do not. 

A flat character arc does not need to be any less inspiring than a dynamic character arc. However, a flat character arc can also be used to demonstrate the effects when someone refuses to change even when it is clearly the best choice.

If you write fiction with a theme of redemption, consider incorporating a flat character arc to show the negative effects of not accepting redemption. For nonfiction with a particular theme, consider demonstrating the repercussions of your theme by sharing an example or story of someone who refuses to change. Flat character arcs can be both compelling, revealing, and a combination of the two. 

How To Write A Flat Character Arc?

How you write a flat character arc depends on the character you write it for, as well as your genre and the theme of your book. But now that you have a general understanding of what a flat character arc is, it’s time to determine exactly how to write this particular arc.

Step One: Know Your Genre And Theme

When writing your flat character arc it’s essential to know the rules by which you are playing. A fantasy with a theme of forgiveness will have a much different character arc than a historical fiction with a theme of resilience. Before crafting your characters, make sure you have a healthy understanding of the genre you write, as well as the theme you are aiming for. Writing a flat character looks much different in young adult dystopia than it does in middle-grade fiction.

Step Two: Know Your Character’s Purpose

The purpose driving your character directly impacts his or her character arc. The better you know your character’s purpose (whether protagonist or supporting), the more realistically you can tie it into their character arc.

For example, let’s say you write historical fiction. Your character is a prisoner of war, struggling to survive and maintain their moral code in the midst of desperate circumstances. This is their purpose. Knowing that you want to make them a flat or static (unchanging) character will allow you to lean into their purpose and align it with their arc. If he is eventually freed, having maintained his moral code for the entirety of his time as a prisoner of war, how much stronger will this character be? In this way, sometimes a character’s flat arc shows more than a dynamic arc could.

Step Three: Know Your Story Goal

Your story goal will drive your protagonist’s arc, so it’s important to have a firm grasp of it. Distill your story goal into a simple phrase that concisely covers the core theme (if you’ve written an elevator pitch before, follow this format). The more simply you can define your story goal, the easier it will be to use it to influence your character’s flat arc. Ask yourself:

  • What is the overall plot?
  • Why does it matter to the character?
  • How does the goal influence my character’s arc?

Knowing your goal and distilling it into a simple statement will make writing that much easier. 

Examples Of Characters With Flat Arcs 

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a list of concrete examples to draw from. Whether it’s in the genre you write and helps you specifically, or gives you ideas from movies and TV shows to cross over into your genre, examples can give a specific foundation and help you build with your own creativity. It’s helpful to have something to draw on from writers who have gone before. 

Diana from Wonder Woman is considered a character with a flat arc because, from beginning to end, she is firmly rooted in her conviction that “only love will truly save the world.” Her belief influences soldier Steve Trevor and even brings an end to World War I.

To continue with the superhero example, Steve Rogers from Marvel’s Captain America is also considered a flat character. Cinema Debate says,

“A flat character arc is used for a protagonist that knows the truth about himself from the start; there is no arc to find himself for better or worse. Instead, this character can change the world around them…For Marvel, Captain America holds this status. No matter the consequence, no matter the sacrifice needed, Steve Rogers always does what is right. His morals, ethics and outlook does not change or bend with circumstances.”

If you’ve read Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, you likely have a love-hate relationship with the protagonist’s cousin, Mr. Collins. Conceited, concerned with appearances, and desperately desirous of a wife, Mr. Collins vainly pursues the female characters in the novel until one settles to marry him. His goal to “select a wife” remains throughout, and once married, he simply settles down, satisfied.

Sherlock Holmes from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is another classic literary example. Holmes is smart, witty, and drives the plot forward with his genius. He does little growing or changing but simply reveals more of who he is through every crime he solves.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings is a wizard who offers sage advice, acts for the good of Middle-Earth, and fights for what he believes in. He is a mentor for the protagonist and a guide for the band of friends traveling to Mordor to destroy the one ring and defeat Sauron for good. While Gandalf does go from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White, his character remains the same throughout.

The Power Of Flat Characters

We all want to stay true to our convictions, beliefs, moral code, and the parts that make up the best of us. That said, just as we try to make our characters human, we are human and often fail to remain strong at times. Flat character arcs are powerful because they demonstrate the ability to remain true even under great suffering, difficult circumstances, peer pressure, or other negative circumstances that affect your protagonist.

While it may seem that dynamic characters get the most page or screen time, when researching in a little more depth, flat characters are just as powerful. Gandalf would not be Gandalf if he was not the steady, wise companion he was. Captain America would not be Captain America if he bent under his convictions when the stress got too high.

As you write your next character, consider creating their arc as a flat arc rather than a dynamic one––it may be more dynamic than you realize. Take your time, do your research and then give it your best. It’s worth it!

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

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SPS 150: Speak & Write With No Fear with Mike Acker (From Speaker to Author)

Mike Acker is a keynote speaker, best-selling communication author, and communication coach with over 20 years of experience in speaking, leadership development, and organizational management. He is the host of the Employee Development Podcast and a prolific author. His tenth book will be out in April. He’s also one of our most famous SPS alumni. Public speaking is one of those things that scares most of us, yet it is such a valuable skill and tool to have and use. Mike wrote the book on it more than once. 

We kick off the show with Mike sharing his roundabout journey of finding and using SPS. He had written a book in 2006, and it didn’t go anywhere when he shopped for publishers. He still had a message to share. Years later, he changed careers and went from being a church pastor to working in the corporate world. He was doing speaking coaching on the side. A potential client approached him and wanted to trade services. She had a successful book that had landed her speaking gigs, and she was looking for coaching. She offered to walk him through the SPS process for his book. 

Mike bought the first edition of Published and went through the SPS process. The hard work paid off, and the success of his book exceeded his expectations. He also shares a strange side effect of how promoting the book affected his business. He started taking his side business much more seriously. He put systems in place and increased time on it until he transitioned out of his corporate job and into his speaking coaching business full time. This episode walks through his story, how he promoted his book, lessons learned, and more interesting insights from Mike. 

Show Highlights

  • [02:03] Mike shares the story of how his first attempt at book writing, in 2006, didn’t go anywhere. Years later, trading services with a client led him to SPS, and his next book was a giant success.
  • [05:46] He wasn’t sure why he wanted to write this next book. His expectations were low, but it was a success. 
  • [07:24] Mike used Amazon ads which really created high visibility. He was also aggressive with getting reviews and contacted everyone he could. He also built relationships with the SPS community.
  • [12:29] Be persistent with asking for reviews. He also did a lot of podcast interviews. 
  • [14:26] Have a great book with good production and invite people to see it with reviews and ads. 
  • [16:31] Mike became more serious about his business when his book came out. He was doing so much to promote his book that it also promoted his business. 
  • [17:45] He started receiving phone calls that made him realize there was really something to his book. He suddenly realized that his side hobby was a business, and he started putting systems in place. 
  • [22:05] He reinvested all of his money in the business. He was able to ramp up during the pandemic. He worked his current job while transitioning to being full time in his business. 
  • [25:12] Lessons learned from his relaunch include improving the content and keeping the old book, so he doesn’t lose his reviews. 
  • [28:56] Pros and cons of keeping both old and new versions live.
  • [30:11] Keep promoting your audio book and make it easy for people to access it. Have a quick link. Give away free codes. 
  • [32:07] Doing it over, Mike would only release one book per year to make promotion easier.
  • [34:07] The most helpful part about working with SPS was the clear instructions and the mastermind community. 
  • [34:38] Take one book and treat it like it has potential because it could. 

Links and Resources

RedemptionArc

Redemption Arc: 5 Steps to a Flawless Arc [Examples Included]

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, incorporating a redemption arc can be a beneficial way to make your story relatable. After all, just as all humans have flaws, characters should be flawed as well. A redemption arc is not possible without something to redeem. Some of the most well-loved movies, books, and TV shows center around a character’s redemption arc. If you’re wondering how to make your writing more relatable, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article we discuss:

RedemptionArc

Before diving in, note that redemption arcs can be as varied as protagonists are unique. There is not a one-size-fits-all redemption arc just as there aren’t cookie-cutter protagonists. While there are tropes that have been used time and again, as you read through this article, take note of how you can make your character’s arc unique to the individual character

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

Where should we send it?

What Is The Meaning Of A Redemption Arc?

The meaning of a redemption arc is dependent on the intention of the author, as well as the genre, plot, and individual characters in the book. A redemption arc is when a character either 1) performs a heroic act that essentially makes up for his previous wrongdoings, or 2) is redeemed by another character.

The act can be external, internal, big, or little. The repercussion is that the act performed by the character helps make up for what he did in the past. Additionally, a second character could proactively act to redeem him (consider Victor Hugo’s portrayal of the Bishop redeeming Jean Valjean in his 1862 novel, Les Miserables). 

Every character will have a different meaning behind their redemption arc. This is part of the enjoyment of creating stories and these particular character arcs. The redemption arc can be applied to any genre and any character.

For villains, a redemption arc can be extended by the protagonist and rejected by the antagonist. This will have a much different meaning than if the protagonist earned his own redemption on the last page. However, the meaning of a redemption arc can change based on the character it is applied to. It’s important to know when to write a redemption arc.

When To Write A Redemption Arc?

Just as the meaning of a redemption arc changes from character to character, when to write a redemption arc is also subjective. When deciding what type of character arc to include for your villain, your protagonist, or your secondary characters, it is essential to first dive into who they are. Write out their backgrounds, goals, dreams, and fears. Get to know what makes them who they are.

Is your protagonist the type of character who would offer redemption to another? Is your villain a character who would never be able to redeem himself no matter how gracious the other characters are? What about your secondary characters? They should be nuanced even if they are not given much page time. Consider how even a sentence or two of dialogue can include a redemption arc.

As you research your characters, consider the other character arcs and what most naturally fits with each character. It is unlikely you will want to write a redemption arc for every character in your story. If you are writing a memoir, maybe you are the protagonist and you experienced your own redemption arc. Include this and give it realism by writing about the details that truly matter. The term redemption arc may sound heroic, but often, it is the small details that give it the power it deserves. 

How To Write A Redemption Arc?

Writing a redemption arc is similar to writing any other type of character arc. However, the redemption arc may feel a bit more nuanced than other character arcs. Below is a process to help walk you through step by step. After you walk through these steps, keep reading for specific examples of redemption arcs. 

Step One: Know Your Character 

Before launching into your redemption arc, it is important to know your character inside and out.

  • Are they the type of character that will work to redeem themselves?
  • Would they be humble enough to accept redemption from another character?
  • Are they cocky or proud?
  • Are they heroic and selfless?

Know the answers to all these questions so you can better articulate how to incorporate their specific redemption arc. If your character is selfless, forgiving, and shy, it may take some time for them to accept redemption from another character or publicly own up to their mistakes. 

Step Two: Reveal Your Character’s Goal

For sake of example, let’s assume you’re writing a redemption arc for your protagonist. It may help to create a goal that opposes their redemption.

For instance, let’s say you’re writing a mystery crime novel. Growing up, your protagonist never felt loved by his father, who is involved in illegal activities. When the father is sentenced to fifteen years in prison, your protagonist’s goal is to break his father out of prison with the hopes of earning his love. Against all odds, he succeeds, but his father goes back to his old ways, consequently hurting the protagonist’s friends. The protagonist’s inner goal (earn his father’s love) conflicts with his external goal (break father out of prison) in that it results in harming those he loves.

Step Three: Reveal Your Character’s Weakness

In the above example, the protagonist’s strength (sacrificing for those he loves) is conflicted by his character flaws or weakness: Going too far for those he loves and placing too much weight in what his father thinks of him. These unmet needs result in those he loves being hurt by his actions. His inner morals (wanting to extend help) conflict with his need (to be loved). When your protagonist’s goals and weaknesses oppose each other, you create tension. This sets the stage for your protagonist’s response, which directly leads to the redemption aspect. 

Step Four: Show Your Character’s Response 

How your character responds to the repercussions born from his weakness is essential to his character arc. When determining your character’s response, you have two standard options:

  • The first is to see his weakness for what it is and work with it for his redemption. Staying with the above example, he could apologize to his friends and work to reverse the wrong done to them.
  • The second is to see his weakness and become overwhelmed by it. Again, to stick with the above example, the friends could offer forgiveness when they see the protagonist is incapable of redeeming himself.

Step Five A: Reveal Your Character’s Response To Their Response 

In the fifth step, it’s crucial to reveal your character’s response to himself. Does he accept his weakness in seeing it for what it is, take proactive steps to right his wrongs, and therefore earn redeem himself? Or does he remain blind to his weakness and unable to work for his own redemption? Often, individuals’ responses to their mistakes reveal more about their character than the mistake itself.

Step Five B: Reveal Your Character’s Response To Others’ Response

Whether you choose to write a redemption arc that your character earns or is given, his response to others is equally as important as his response to himself. How does your protagonist respond when others extend redemption? Maybe part of their character arc is losing his ego enough to be able to accept forgiveness. Maybe you’re writing a trilogy and your character won’t be able to accept redemption until the last book. If you’re writing nonfiction, portray your experience or the experience of the protagonist you are writing as true to fact as you can. How your character responds to other characters will reveal much about his own character.

Examples Of Redemption Arcs 

Before wrapping up this article, let’s dive into some examples of redemption arcs. 

  • Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning All The Light We Cannot See depicts Marie-Laure LeBlanc in charge of protecting a diamond wanted by the Nazis. Her opposite, Werner Pfennig, is with the Nazis and finds both the diamond and LeBlanc. However, seeing the Nazi actions for the cruelty it is, Pfennig refuses to let LeBlanc be killed or the diamond to be taken. 
  • Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete, and World War II airman. In 1943 Zamperini’s bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Captured by the Japanese, Zamperini was a prisoner of war in two separate prison camps. After torture and other unimaginable difficulties but with his spirit unbroken, Zamperini was released. While Zamperini struggled to overcome his difficulties and battled post-traumatic stress, he became a Christian focused on evangelism, and emphasized the power of redemption. Zamperini is a true example of a redemptive character arc and exemplifies the power of extending redemption to those who least deserve it.
  • Part true and part fiction novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is the story of an Australian robber who escaped prison. Knowing he can’t return to his country, India becomes his destination. He makes his home in the slums, fights in Afghanistan with freedom fighters, and builds a health clinic with free service for those in need.
  • As mentioned above, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is a classic story of redemption. The protagonist, Jean Valjean, is a convict who steals from a bishop. Despite his thievery, Bishop Myriel extends redemption and saves him from going back to jail for his crime. Throughout the book, Jean Valjean works to help his fellowmen, forges his own path, and seeks forgiveness. Valjean’s character arc is one of redemption not just for himself, but for a myriad of other characters as well. 

Redemption arcs are powerful because they offer hope to readers. Hope is powerful and can last long after the book is closed. Whether you choose to incorporate a redemption arc for your villain, your protagonist, secondary characters, or apply a redemption arc to a myriad of characters over a series of books, redemption arcs can transform characters in a compelling way unique to themselves. 

As you go about your redemption arc, consider the steps and examples illustrated to help you on your journey. Remember, redemption arcs are unique to your specific character. This type of arc is not a one-size-fits-all. Do the necessary research you need to create a compelling character arc that will not only transform your characters but inspire your readers for years to come.

Whether you prefer to outline every scene of your book (plotter) or write to find out what happens (pantser), do your best to read many, many books in your genre. As you read you will discover examples of what has been done well and what shouldn’t be done. Take all this to heart and then write well. You’ve got this!

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

Where should we send it?

SPS 149: The 4 Tendencies of Bestselling Authors & Writing Great Books with Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is here! She is the author of The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, Better Than Before, The Four Tendencies, Outer Order, Inner Calm and more. She is the host of the award-winning Happier podcast, and she also has an accompanying Happier app. She is a leading voice in the self-help memoir space, or as she calls her work, being self-helpful. Gretchen began her career as a lawyer clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. As we learn, in this episode, while walking through the streets of DC, she realized that she wanted to be a writer. 

We get to follow the evolution of her writing career, and she had done all of the preparation and everything required to be a writer before she discovered this was her calling. We also learn about the creative structure and what makes things clear and digestible for the reader. She shares how her first biographies were and exploration into the human experience featuring big names and notable characters. We talk about the actual writing, the importance of reading, and how not all of your research and notes need to be included in your work.

One of her biggest books was The Four Tendencies, a book about understanding personality profiles to make your life and the lives of those around you better. Gretchen shares the personality categories that go into The Four Tendencies Framework and a fun quiz that anyone can take to find their category. We talk about relaunching and promoting your work and the importance of doing everything you can to get your valuable work noticed. This is a super exciting interview with a lot of insight on writing and knowing what works for you!

Show Highlights

  • [01:43] When Gretchen wrote her first book, she was a lawyer working for Sandra Day O’Connor. This is when she wrote Power Money Fame Sex. She’s been a writer ever since.
  • [04:09] She did everything to prepare to be a writer. She was finally able to carve out a place in creative nonfiction. She now has so many ideas for projects that she wants to work on.
  • [05:31] It’s important for writers to read a lot of different stuff, because we don’t always know where our ideas are going to come from.
  • [07:28] Gretchen wrote biographies because they are about human nature. Writing about JFK or Winston Churchill is sharing gigantic examples of these people’s lives. 
  • [10:10] In her early work, Gretchen experimented with creative structure. Now she tries to keep things simple and structured in a way that will serve the reader best.
  • [14:01] When writing you can’t include all of your notes, especially if you do extensive research. You need to be willing to cut your darling.
  • [15:16] Studying fiction can improve non-fiction writing. Gretchen copies passages that she truly loves. 
  • [17:43] She wrote novels of ideas that she never published as a book. Except Profane Waste
  • [18:39] Consistent work. The Four Tendencies Framework divides people into four categories including the upholder, obliger, questioner, and rebel. These are based on how we respond to expectations. 
  • [23:20] People love quizzes. It’s a great way to build a list. People get their results, and then they want to learn more. 
  • [29:08] Gretchen launched the The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, to refresh the project and promote it to new readers.
  • [30:09] Lessons learned. Are we doing enough to promote our creations? People love updated things. 
  • [32:09] Know yourself and think about what works for you. Don’t let people tell you what the best way is. What worked for you in the past? Actions not outcomes.

Links and Resources

How to Write Supporting Characters

How To Write Supporting Characters That Readers Love (10 Examples)

A book is made of more than just the main characters. You might have one or two main characters, a handful of significant supporting characters, then a cast of minor characters to make your novel full and intriguing.

But those supporting characters are just as important as your main characters! They deserve their own arcs, their own aspirations, and their own complex personalities. Supporting characters are an important part of worldbuilding in a story, and their actions can greatly influence the protagonist’s path.

Let’s talk about what a supporting character’s role is and how to write them well.

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

Where should we send it?

What is a supporting character?

A supporting character is a character who plays a role in the main character’s story. That doesn’t mean they’re just a plot device, but their arc isn’t the main focus of the story. They’re typically the people in your main character’s life, like their friends, family, coworkers, classmates, and love interests.

A supporting character should still have a developed personality, a character arc, and strong opinions. Your supporting characters should be fleshed out, just like your main characters. They might take the role of a supporter, antagonizer, or informant, but more on that in a bit.

What do supporting characters do?

Supporting characters can do things like add depth to your story, establish context for your world, help or hurt your main character on their journey, and make the story fun and interesting.

Imagine a book with only one character to understand why supporting roles are important.

Some characters will offer support and encouragement for your protagonist throughout their arc, while others will act as conflict starters.

They’re important for conversations where we can hear the main character’s struggles and ideas out loud, providing the character with guidance, and creating conflict.

Types of supporting characters

Supporting characters can play many roles in a story, but there are a few recognizable archetypes you’re probably familiar with. Sidekicks, romantic interests, henchmen, mentors, best friends, rivals, nemesis, confidants, comic relief — these are all archetypes of the supporting character. But there are three basic roles that all of these types fit under: supporters, antagonizers, and informants.

Supporters

Supporters are important for taking on the role of a caring, safe spot for the main character (MC) to find comfort, air grievances, and reveal their feelings to the reader via conversations with their support system.

These characters can also challenge the MC by questioning their judgment, offering alternatives, and sometimes convincing them that they or their actions are wrong.

Think of one of the best friendship stories ever written–Lord of the Rings. What would have happened if Frodo were sent on his journey alone? He couldn’t have made it all the way without the support of Sam, Pippin, Merry, and the other people who helped him along the way.

Antagonizers

Antagonizer characters, as you’ve probably guessed, have the opposite role. They’re there to challenge your MC in a negative way. They’re working against the MC.

There’s typically one character that we refer to as THE antagonist, but you’ll ideally have more than your main antagonist.

Since conflict drives stories, we’ll want to have more conflict than just one antagonizer can provide through the whole book. Another important note is that antagonizer characters aren’t necessarily villains. They can be, of course, but some characters oppose your MC for non-villainous reasons. They might even do it by accident.

Their role can be provoking, angering, or riling up your MC for any reason. It doesn’t have to be intentional, and it doesn’t even have to be rational. It could be your MC’s best friend, but they produce conflict because of their outlook, personality, or a relationship dynamic between the two characters.

In short, an antagonizer is a supporting character who is there to stir sh*t up.

Informers

Informer characters, as the name suggests, act as informational sources for your MC. While their role is to provide information and guidance, like the mentor archetype, they should still be fully formed characters. This is the easiest type of supporting character to accidentally turn into merely a plot device, so take special care that you build informer characters complexly.

What are examples of supporting characters?

The supporting characters in a story are often the main character’s social group. Co-workers, classmates, friends, family, roommates, and love interests are all examples of the types of roles a supporting character can take.

Here are some examples of famously well-written supporting characters in popular books.

Supporting characters in Hunger Games

Haymitch Abernathy — Haymitch is the cranky, stubborn, unwilling mentor to Katniss and Peeta. He’s reluctant to help them out, but he eventually grows to care for them and becomes a genuine mentor and source of help. Haymitch works as a supporter, an informer, and in some instances, an antagonizer. But overall, his role is supporter.

Peeta Mellark — Peeta can be seen as the main character’s love interest (arguable), but he’s definitely her friend. He’s always on her side, even when he’s been brainwashed to kill her. Peeta is a supporter character.

President Snow — Throughout the entire series, President Snow is the villain. He’s an antagonizer supporting character. He’s responsible for the Hunger Games, which is the main conflict our characters have to confront. He also works toward Katniss and Peeta’s deaths for the rest of his life after they escape the games alive.

Effie Trinket — For an idea of someone who is almost solely an informant, we might look at Effie Trinket. While her role becomes more important throughout the series, in the first book, she’s our look into the Capital and how it works. We get a lot of exposition in a natural way through Effie as she guides Katniss and Peeta through what is expected of them in this new world.

Supporting characters in Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Darcy — Mr. Darcy, as the love interest, is a supporter character. In the beginning and middle of the book, you might say he takes on the role of an antagonizer character, just because he gives our main character, Lizzie, so much grief. In the end, we see that most of the antagonizer moves he made were a result of misunderstandings and his own social ineptitude, leaving us with Mr. Darcy, the supporter.

Mr. Collins — Mr. Collins is an antagonizer supporting character throughout the whole book. He foists his unwanted marital advances upon any Bennet sister who will glance his way, he’s to inherit their house upon Mr. Bennet’s death, and he’s just a weird little pervert. He causes grief no matter what his goal is, and he thinks he’s doing amazing work.

Mrs. Bennet — Mrs. Bennet is an antagonizer character with the best of intentions. Her role can switch back and forth, as Lizzie grows tired of her, then fond of her, then pities her, and around again. While she has the best of intentions in pushing her daughters to marry, she does so in the most egregious and grating ways possible, often getting in the way of her own goal by scaring away the rich and eligible bachelors who are, indeed, in want of a wife. What do you think—is Mrs. Bennet a supporter or an antagonizer?

Supporting characters in I Am The Messenger

Audrey — Audrey is one of Ed, the main character’s, best friends, as well as his love interest. Though she causes him a considerable amount of pain, Audrey is consistently a supporter character. Her presence creates inner turmoil for Ed, but she’s always on his side.

Bev — Bev is Ed’s mother, and she is unquestionably an antagonizer character. Every scene she’s in ends with Ed feeling beatdown, disrespected, and unmotivated. Her only role is to criticize and demoralize him. Even though he ends the story forgiving her, Bev keeps her role as antagonizer through the book.

The Doorman — The Doorman is the main character’s dog, who is voiced through Ed’s imagination. The Doorman provides a back-and-forth inner monologue for Ed to work out his problems and gain clarity. Whether it was his choice or not, The Doorman is a supporter and informant character.

How do you write a good supporting character?

Writing good supporting characters for your book requires thinking of them as full, complex people. Here are some tips for writing compelling supporting characters:

1. Make their dialogue distinct from other characters.

Each character, even supporting characters, should have distinct ways of speaking. This can be based on their background, education, hometown, life experience, age, and personality. Take those factors into consideration when you craft your character’s voice. Are they snarky? Long-winded? What kind of vocabulary do they use? Do they speak to every character in the same tone, or do they shift based on their audience and environment? Do they speak with an accent, regional dialect, or a speech impediment?

Making distinct dialogue becomes more important as your character cast grows. It’s one of the most important tools you can use to help your readers keep up with who’s who.

2. Give them a distinct name.

Along with distinct dialogue, a name that stands out from other characters will help your readers to keep the characters straight in their heads as they read the book. I had two characters in one of my novels who had the same job, and both of their names began with a C. In a long book like that one, we’re introduced to very many characters. I changed one of their names for clarity’s sake, because it’s an easy way to help your reader along.

3. Make sure your characters want something.

If they don’t have a goal or agenda, supporting characters can easily become a plot device. Each character you include in a scene should want something out of it, big or small. If they’re important enough to have a name, they’re important enough to want something.

4. Put in the effort.

Writing a strong cast of supporting characters really comes down to giving them as much care and attention as we give our main characters. Supporting characters should have a backstory that makes sense for their current state of being, flaws, likes and dislikes, and character arcs of their own. At the very least, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do they want?
  • What’s stopping them from getting it?
  • What will they do in response to the thing that’s stopping them from achieving their goal?

Supporting characters play an important role in any book. Without them, the world around our main characters would be drab, boring, and unexciting. A good character needs good characters to work with and against!

Make sure you’re giving just as much love to your supporting cast as you do when building your main character. Remember: If they’re important enough to be named, they’re important enough to want something. What do your characters want, and how are they going to go after it?

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

Where should we send it?

SPS 148: Growing Your Real Estate Investing Business Using A Book with AJ Osborne

AJ Osborne is the author of The Investors Guide to Growing Wealth in Self Storage: The Step-By-Step Playbook for Turning a Real Estate Asset Into a Thriving Self Storage Business. He’s also an SPS alumni, so it’s exciting to learn about his success. Over the last decade, AJ has built a portfolio of over a hundred million dollars in self storage investments without the help of outside capital or management.

He has an incredible story about why he wrote his book. Bottom line, he wanted to get other people excited about his business and needed a way to let them know what he did. The book did incredible, and was the best selling book in his industry. He gave away every single piece of information away for free. He also started a podcast, an inner circle, and created deals and found investors. 

AJ’s business was already successful. After the book, he more than doubled his square footage in the storage industry and new business opportunities sprung up everywhere. He even has a private equity company now. In this episode, we learn all about the wonderful success that AJ has had. He also shares a bit about his story, how he found SPS, and what he would have done differently if he was starting out again. 

Show Highlights

  • [03:18] AJ shares the incredible story of when and why he decided to write his book.
  • [03:47] The book also led to him launching a podcast and multiple other companies.
  • [04:21] Through the book, people learned more about his strategy and ended up wanting to invest in his projects.
  • [05:59] They now even do wholesale deals and find people who want to invest in those.
  • [06:33] When he wrote the book he had about 1 million square feet. Today, he has 2 million square feet and 650,000 in development and 500,000 square feet under contract right now. 
  • [07:02] The book helped propel his success in three years as opposed to 10 years to build the initial business.
  • [07:30] They also became a private equity company.
  • [08:13] AJ found SPS through a ConvertKit conference. 
  • [10:16] He niched down and found people in that niche through podcasts. He also used Amazon Ads and had a landing page to get emails. His own podcast also helped a lot. 
  • [14:40] AJ shares his strategy to get a base of reviews. He did some prelaunch speaking gigs that really help get quality reviews. He also asked for reviews on his podcast. 
  • [18:24] AJ shares how he landed podcast interviews and got on the BiggerPockets Podcast.
  • [24:25] When using books to grow your real estate business be sure to know the purpose. The book is there to produce value and give the readers what they need to know. Structure the book for the results that you are trying to achieve.
  • [25:55] Make your book stand out from other books in your industry.
  • [28:20] Publishing a book can be overwhelming. SPS provided AJ with a compass and a plan to follow. 
  • [30:49] When you have good expertise and believe in your topic, people will want to read your book. Have the confidence to put yourself out there.  

Links and Resources

dynamic character vs static character

Dynamic Character: 9 Examples

Dynamic characters can bring a plot to life, stay in the mind of readers for years to come, and inspire change. However, there is a myriad of ways to create a dynamic character, and the term itself can be misleading. A dynamic character is not always outgoing, as the term may imply. In fact, some of the most dynamic characters can be reserved and collected. Whatever personality your novel’s protagonist or the focal character of your nonfiction takes, making him or her dynamic can be integral to creating a great story. 

That said, there are a few questions to get out of the way before diving into the creation of dynamic characters. The more you understand at the forefront, the simpler it will be to create a character that brings life to your story. In this article we discuss:

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

The deeper understanding you have, the better you will be able to wield the tools that create a dynamic character. So let’s start with the definition. 

What Is A Dynamic Character

According to Dictionary.com, a dynamic character is, “A literary or dramatic character who undergoes an important inner change, as a change in personality or attitude.”

Consider the protagonist in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebeneezer Scrooge. Even in his 1843 novella, Dickens understood the importance of a dynamic character. More on him later.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, the protagonist of your story should have some type of character arc by the last page. Character arc is crucial because without it, there is little journey to take your readers on. Some of the most loved stories are made up of dynamic characters going through difficult circumstances and reaching the last page changed.  

Dynamic characters are the power behind story. They take the plot from passive to active and tie plot points together. Whether you’re writing fiction with a traditional protagonist, or nonfiction where the protagonist is yourself or perhaps even your reader, it’s imperative to take your readers on a transforming journey. 

When considering how to write a dynamic character, it’s essential to first define the difference between static characters and dynamic characters. Artist and stage designer Es Devin says, “You need to start without light to find it.”

There must be a polar opposite to find the other. In the same way, it’s crucial to understand what a static character is in order to understand what a dynamic character is. 

Static Characters Versus Dynamic Characters

According to Dictionary.com, static characters are, “A literary or dramatic character who undergoes little or no inner change; a character who does not grow or develop.”

Just as darkness is important for light, static characters are important for dynamic characters. Sometimes the most impactful way to show the dynamic change of a character is to mirror them with a static character.

If a book was made up of only dynamic characters (fictional characters transforming their worlds or nonfiction protagonists all creating great change), it would likely fail to bring the ring of truth. The world, and therefore our readers’ world, is made up of both active and passive people, static and dynamic individuals. As you choose how to best portray the individuals or characters in your book, keep the above in mind.

When To Write Dynamic Characters

When to write a dynamic character depends on the goal of your story. There are great stories of characters who entered a difficult situation and overcome the situation without losing the core of who they are. While these can be inspiring stories, there is also a time and place to combine this strength with dynamic growth.

For instance, for nonfiction, if you’re writing a memoir and want to communicate how you overcame difficulties without losing the core of who you are, you may need to leave the dynamic character writing for your next novel. However, if your memoir is about how you overcame a difficult situation without losing your morals, while also growing and changing, writing yourself as a dynamic protagonist is an honest way to communicate your story. 

For fiction, dynamic characters can go a long way in making your book both memorable and impactful. Watching a character transform from insecure to bold and daring, or from hurt and wounded to strong and empathetic can be an inspiration to readers. We often love to read stories about characters we want to be like. As humans, we grow and change. Whether learning how to execute a task better at our job or interpersonally as we learn to relate with others at a deeper level, we are growing.

As a writer, communicating this through a flawed and human, yet dynamic character, can be transformational for your readers. For a reader to close your book and think, if they could do it I can do it, is an honor. So practically, how do you write a dynamic character? 

https://youtu.be/tpIQwZZ6kus

How To Write A Dynamic Character

The exact execution of how to write a dynamic character depends on many factors:

If your protagonist is by nature extremely shy, introverted, or insecure, their dynamic shift will look different than an extroverted, confident, or bold character. Before beginning to write your dynamic character, take time to consider their personality in-depth. Consider asking yourself these questions:

  • What is your protagonist’s backstory?
  • His ideal way to spend free time?
  • What must she overcome?
  • Greatest desire?
  • Greatest fear?

Next, consider how these questions would influence writing the following protagonists:

  • Example 1: A single mother, afraid of ending up completely alone.
  • Example 2: An introverted teenager whose parents adopt a special needs child.
  • Example 3: A veteran with PTSD who wants to share his story for his grandchildren.
  • Example 4: An insecure heir to the throne who could use his newfound power for his own good.

As you read these examples, take note of how their different desires and weaknesses will influence their character arc in dynamic ways. The single mother may have to focus on her children for a season, rather than her personal dreams. The teenager may have to overcome her introversion to help her new sibling adjust, or she may become a recluse who never leaves the house for the rest of her life. The veteran may need to face his demons in order to share his story and leave his legacy for his grandchildren. The heir to the throne may need to overcome his insecurities in order to help his people, rather than use his power for his own gain. 

When writing dynamic characters, often what differentiates a protagonist from an antagonist is how they overcome their weaknesses for the greater good.

With the example of the heir to the throne, if he lets his insecurity rule and uses his power for his own corrupted good, he is doing so at the expense of the kingdom (think Commodus in Gladiator, a static character, antagonist).

The single mother could let her fear of being alone rule her and completely ignore her children, to their detriment. She’d be working against the greater good and thus be an antagonist.

When you pair the fears or goals above with dynamic characters, instead of static characters, you’ll often produce more memorable protagonists.

What are Examples of Dynamic Characters

Ebenezer Scrooge’s (Example 5) character arc is so dynamic he has gone down as a classic character and is still studied today. His last name, “Scrooge,” became modern vernacular for anyone who was stingy, cold, and selfish, especially around Christmas time. But if you’ve read the story, you know that’s not how he ends. He transforms into a giver.

While classic examples are helpful because they are commonly known and studied, some more current examples may inspire your own writing. 

Let’s dive in. Spoilers ahead!*

  • Example 6: In Andy Weir’s The Martian, botanist Mark Watney finds himself trapped in an environment he knows little about. He must change in order to learn to survive. Although his journey takes place alone, his character grows as he builds on the strengths he already possesses and strengthens them to the point where he can sustain life on Mars. While his personality may be more laid back, his character growth is dynamic in that it takes him from certain death to surviving on a planet far from earth.   
  • Example 7: If you’ve read (or watched) the Divergent series, you know Beatrice Prior, otherwise known as Tris, is the main protagonist throughout the books. When Divergent begins, Beatrice is a shy girl nervous to take her aptitude test. By the time she realizes she is divergent, she’s fighting to keep her secret hidden and her family safe. This fight results in dramatic, dare I say dynamic, character growth that transforms her into a bold yet still caring individual. 
  • Example 8: Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy follows a similar character arc. She begins on page one wondering where her little sister is and soon after is immediately plunged into a life or death reality. Her initial goal is to save her sister from the deadly Hunger Games, but by the end of the third book, she has gone up against the villain himself, broken down his empire, and started a new life with her family. 
  • Example 9: Winston Graham’s Poldark portrays a dynamic character through one of his protagonists, Demelza. She begins her journey saved from a street brawl, dirty, and rejected by her family. Taken in as a maid, Demelza slowly learns a new way of life, while not putting off her old ways too quickly. She is still brash and daring, simply in a new context. As she grows, so do the dynamics of her character. She comes full-circle, being accepted into society on the very streets she once brawled in. 

Drafting Considerations

Characters are by nature both dynamic and static. Whether they grow in one large area and remain unchanged in one small area, most human characters usually possess both dynamic and static traits. As you draft your dynamic character, remember to add human qualities. Humans usually have a little hero and a little villain, a little perfection and a little imperfection, inside. To be human is to be imperfect. A dynamic character grows through these imperfections and transforms through circumstance. Unless they’re an antihero.

Pair the appropriate context with the right character, create a dynamic arc, and then walk with your reader through every scene. Show the dynamics that are at play, the fight between apathy and passion, pursuit and abandon, stillness and resolve. A dynamic character grows, but it is not always a quick process.

Take your time, revisit your character, and add layers to every draft. To be a dynamic writer involves creating a dynamic story. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, do your research on dynamic characters as well as static characters. Decide what is best for your story, and of course, your protagonist. Then sit in the chair, put your fingers to the keyboard or the pencil in your hand, and begin writing

Incorporate those human character traits. Then let your imagination and research take over. Writing a great character is worth the effort, the time, and the persistence involved. You can do it!

Want the Fast Pass to Writing Great Dynamic Characters?

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

SPS 147: From Reading “Published.” To 50,000+ Copies Sold (How I Did It) with Rachel Richards

Rachel Richards is the author of Money Honey: A Simple 7-Step Guide for Getting Your Financial $hit Together and Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement: The Secret to Freedom, Flexibility, and Financial Independence (& how to get started!). Both books have done really well. At the age of 27, she quit her job and retired. She now lives off of over $15,000 a month in passive income. She’s on a mission to empower female Millennials to take control of their financial future.

I remember meeting Rachel at a Hal Elrod conference. Rachel had read the first edition of Published and used that information to write and publish Money Honey. We are going to talk about how she used Published to write and publish her book. We are also going to talk about how her book sold so well. She also has over 2,000 cumulative reviews on her books. We’ll definitely dive into that. We’re also going to talk about her social media including Instagram and TikTok, along with audiobooks.

Rachel shares her story of how she self-published Money Honey in 2017, and how writing a book was something that she always wanted to do. In the past, she was a financial adviser and really had a passion to help people with their money, but she didn’t want to do cold calls. She found Published on Amazon and followed the book and wrote her draft. When we met she said the book had such an impact on her life. Her books bring in between $4,000 and $10,000 a month in profit. It’s completely changed her life. We talk about everything about her publishing and financial independence journey. 

Show Highlights

  • [05:18] Rachel’s writing style is taking complex topics and making them simple and sassy.
  • [06:23] She did what she could to make personal finance fun instead of boring. 
  • [07:18] She followed the free launch strategy. She had no platform. She was playing the long game. 
  • [09:04] She also gained credibility by answering finance questions in a Facebook group. She used her fans in the group to help, similar to a launch team. She also did one-on-one outreach. She gave the book away for free and asked for free reviews.
  • [13:05] She also had freebies in her book with an automated welcome sequence that asked for reviews. 
  • [15:51] When she released her audiobook, it was almost like a new launch. 
  • [19:24] Her TikTok and Instagram platforms grew after her book launched. The platform’s growth helps sell books every year. She wanted to offer people as much value as possible so she created a course. She also has a real estate course and a mastermind.
  • [20:35] She uses Instagram to give a lot of value and to share a lot of content. She’s always trying to add value and make people laugh. It’s also a way for her readers to connect with her personally.
  • [22:02] Her TikTok success was an accident. She made silly content for her sisters. One accidently went viral, and she ended up with 35,000 followers. 
  • [27:08] Rachel relaunched Money Honey, she wanted to fix her interior and change her autoresponder. She also got a new professional cover. She also updated a lot of the financial stuff, statistics, and she added a forward. 
  • [30:23] Paula Pant wrote her new forward. 
  • [32:42] Published was so helpful because it laid the groundwork. The mind map really helped take all the ideas into a finished project
  • [34:52] Parting advice includes having more confidence in yourself. Believe in the outcome and what you are doing.

Links and Resources

SPS 146: Stop Asking Questions. Book Writing For Podcasters with Andrew Warner

Andrew Warner is the founder of Mixergy, a hit podcast, and training program where Andrew interviews top entrepreneurs and founders. He’s interviewed founders of companies like Pixar, Groupon, and LinkedIn. He’s also interviewed entrepreneurs like Barbara Corcoran, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jessica Jackley, and so many more in the over 2000 interviews that he’s conducted. Before Mixergy, he founded Bradford & Reed, a company that ran a collection of startups. He specializes in startups, entrepreneurship, and education.

He is now sharing some of his interview experience in his new book Stop Asking Questions: How to Lead High-Impact Interviews and Learn Anything from Anyone. This book teaches how to lead dynamic interviews. We have one of those active conversations here today with Andrew. He talks about the advantages of having a tangible asset like a book. We also talk about the joy and benefits of handing out physical books.

Andrew talks about why he wrote the book, his writing process, how he chose a publisher, and how he struggled to stay on track writing the book. He even considered using a ghostwriter but then decided he needed his message in his own words. We learn about Andrew’s Twitter promotion method that utilized mini-lessons and helped him build a list. He also used his list members to help with things like cover choice, etc. Andrew shares his unique use of Holloway’s reading platform and many more valuable insights. 

Show Highlights

  • [03:11] Andrew loves how books are tangible for a set of thoughts. Chandler shares the advantages of handing out books. 
  • [06:52] Andrew wanted to have something that would share and carry on the work that he’s done.
  • [08:32] The process took him about eight months. He hired an editor from Penguin to help keep him on track while working on his book. He had to sacrifice every part of his work to get it done.
  • [10:19] He then looked for a ghostwriter and spoke with Ryan Holiday about all of the struggles of writing a book. He decided to suffer through his book and not use the ghostwriter. 
  • [12:12] Using interviews to spark topics for book outlines. People’s problems were important. While answering people’s questions, Andrew realized what was important to them. This also helped him see problems and get ideas.
  • [14:08] He wanted to focus on good conversations more than anything else. He kept going back to how to have good conversation
  • [15:22] Andrew worked with a publisher and they used Twitter to promote the book. They taught lessons from the book on Twitter and people were interested. They used this method to build a list. 
  • [17:18] They let the people on the list help with the process and cover etc. Andrew also did a lot of podcast interviews after launching his book. He also used Holloway.
  • [21:43] He used Holloway, an online reading experience that makes it easy to share, for his upsells.
  • [25:39] Chandler talks about relaunching a book featured in chapter 21 of his book Published. 
  • [27:34] You can get a studio to create an audiobook for about $5,000 and it would take a couple days to record. 
  • [30:09] Andrew shares how he decided to work with a publisher. 
  • [32:21] Parting advice: Ask for help. 

Links and Resources