Literary Element: Character


Character refers to a person, an animal or an object in a story. It is very important that characters are well-developed, believable and consistent.  At the beginning of a story a conflict is presented for the main character to resolve.  There are secondary characters who are important to the main character because they help the main character move toward solving a problem.  By the end of a story, a character should change or grow somehow.  This could be by learning something new or by growing in understanding of self.


Ways to Know a Character



• how the character looks

• how the character dresses


Thoughts and conversation

• what the character says, thinks, or feels

• what others in the story say or think about the character



• what the character does               -

• what the character chooses not  to do

• what others in the story do to the main character


Authors who present good characters try to present characters who are:



                     multidimensional, that is, not stereotyped


                      and who grow or change over time


Readers who want to understand a character can ask questions like the following:

·        Are the characters believable?  Have you ever felt like this character,  or have you known anyone who felt like this character?  What about the character seemed real and true?

·        Is each character’s behavior consistent with what we know about him or her?  Does the behavior remain consistent throughout the book?  Is the change that occurs in the character consistent with what we know about the character?

·        Although the character’s behavior is consistent, is it also not stereotyped?  Does the character’s behavior show that the character is a unique individual?

·        Do you identify with the character?  How would you have reacted if you were the character?

·        Does the character change or learn as the story progresses?  Does the character reach a new understanding about the situation or about life?

·        Is the character memorable? Will you remember this character in a month?