How To Create Your Character Types To Craft Better Stories

Mostly True Memoirs

How to create fabulous character types


Character Types Are Key

Character types are the key to creating better stories.

It is important to understand the function of the different character types so that you can use them to develop your narrative to its full potential.

Not all of them are in every story, and some of them take on several roles at once.

Every story should, at the very least, have a protagonist who moves the story forward and an antagonist who represents the conflict.

Basic Character Types

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Foil
  • Sidekick
  • Confidante
  • Love Interest


The protagonist is the main character. It’s the person who moves the story forward. Without this person, there would be no story.

This character is on a journey to achieve some kind of a goal.

A good protagonist should have a character flaw because perfect people are boring.

The flaw is what makes this character relatable.


The antagonist opposes the protagonist’s goals, creating the main conflict.

A great antagonist should be able to explain their position.

In other words, if they are bad just to be bad, the story won’t be interesting.

If they can justify their actions, the audience will feel engaged with why they are behaving this way.

An effective antagonist forces the protagonist to grow and change.


The foil has the opposite characteristics of the main character.

These differences serve to accentuate the protagonist’s qualities.

A foil can also be called an orbital character.

This person is an instigator and a source of either aggravation or comedy.

Or both.


The sidekick accompanies the protagonist on the journey.

But that’s not all.

The sidekick’s role is to reveal elements of the protagonist’s character that the main character either can’t say, or won’t say, or is completely unaware of.


The confidante is a wise sage, a mentor, a person that the protagonist confides in.

Through this character, the protagonist can reveal their innermost secrets, their vulnerabilities, and their softer side.

Love Interest

The love interest is often unaware of the protagonists’ feelings, which can lead to a great sub-plot if the love story isn’t the main plot.

Through the love interest, we learn about the heart and soul of the protagonist.

Character Type Examples

Let’s explore these character types within some well-known stories.



Jerry is the protagonist. He is the straight man among his crew of wacky friends. Jerry is the reason the show exists. Without Jerry, there wouldn’t be this story.

In fact, there is an episode that touches on this very topic. George and Elaine find themselves alone, and things become very awkward when they realize they have nothing to say to each other in the absence of Jerry.


Newman is Jerry’s antagonist.

The basis of the animosity between Jerry and Newman was never really explained, but in one episode, they each declare that they loathe the other.

The reason that this character works so well is that Newman’s motivations are justified in that he feels that Jerry is undeserving of his fame as a comedian.


Kramer is Jerry’s foil.

He is the opposite of Jerry.

Kramer has no job, no ambition, and no common sense.

He is an instigator, and he often causes a scene.

Kramer’s antics create an opportunity for Jerry to shine as the normal one.


George is Jerry’s sidekick.

Through George, we learn just how petty Jerry can be.

Every week, Jerry breaks up with a different girl, and every week, he discusses this with George.

Jerry can’t tell the audience he’s petty because he is entirely unaware.

George can’t tell us Jerry is petty because he is equally petty.

But through these conversations the audience can see just how petty they both are.


Elaine is Jerry’s confidante.

Yes, George is his best friend, but it’s a snarky, competitive kind of friendship. Jerry can’t be vulnerable with George.

Jerry and Elaine have such a special friendship that he even has a nickname for her – Laney. He doesn’t have affectionate nicknames for any of his other friends.

Through his friendship with Elaine, we can see Jerry’s softer side (what little of it there is).

Love Interest

Jerry has many love interests, but he is destined to fail at all of them.

When the girl is nice enough, he breaks up with her for an insignificant reason.

However, when the girl is perfect, she ends up breaking up with him, and it’s always a disaster.

Seinfeld is an old-school sitcom. The next example is a novel-turned-movie. You can see that the same principles apply. These character types work in every genre and in every medium.

A Man Called Ove


Ove is the protagonist.

He’s a grumpy, embittered widow who is ready to be done with his life.


Rune is the antagonist.

Rune symbolizes all of the heartbreak that Ove has suffered in his life.

They started out as great friends and equals, but then their lives each went in different, tragic directions, and lifelong grudges were formed.


Parvaneh is the foil.

She is the wife of the family who moves in next door.

This family is incompetent, nosy, noisy, and needy.

Parvaneh inadvertently and continuously interrupts Ove’s attempts to take his own life and demands that he help her with her problems.


The Cat is Ove’s sidekick.

Ove unwillingly and begrudgingly adopts the cat, and he feels like the cat is always judging him.

However, those perceived judgements inspire Ove to do the right thing.


Parvaneh is Ove’s foil, but she is equally his confidante, his friend, and his inspiration to live.

Love Interest

Sonja, Ove’s late wife, was always the love of his life, and she continues to be so even after her death.

Character Types

To create a compelling story, the protagonist must have a motivation, a desire, or a goal, and (s)he must embark on a journey to achieve that thing.

All the other characters are in the story to push the protagonist forward.

Yes, even the antagonist ultimately pushes the protagonist forward.

You can probably think of stories that don’t follow these character types.

That’s OK.

Rules are meant to be broken.

However, before you can break the rules, you need to know them.

Look for these character types when you are reading a book, watching a movie, or binging on Netflix.

Include these character types in your next story.

Learn how the rules work, so that you can be prepared to break them well.

Was This Article Helpful?

Let me know what you think in the comments .

I’ve used this material in many Writers Lab Workshops.

If there’s enough interest, maybe I’ll do a workshop online.

Liz Brenner

Liz Brenner

Everyone has a story to tell.

Even you.

Especially you.

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