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Static vs Dynamic Character: Differences

Writers have countless different ways to categorize fictional characters

One particularly useful categorization is static vs dynamic characters

Understanding this core difference can help you study character development and bring your characters to life

So what’s the difference between static and dynamic characters?

If they maintain the same personality and worldview throughout the story, they’re a static character

A static character is a character who stays the same throughout the story

Often, secondary characters who play supporting roles in a story will be static characters, since the story

They might help the protagonist grow, provide an obstacle to the protagonist’s goals, or act as

For example, Superman is a symbol of justice, optimism, and hope

It’s important to remember that a static character isn’t the same thing as a flat

A well-written static character should be a round character, with complex layers and flaws, even though they

A dynamic character is a character who changes over the course of a story

For example, an insecure character with low self-esteem might learn to love themselves, or a guarded character

Positive arcs are common for protagonists in stories with happy endings

Other dynamic characters change in negative ways, sinking further into their flaws

Negative arcs are common for protagonists in stories with tragic endings

Dynamic characters shouldn’t be dynamic for no apparent reason—the story must force them to grow

Let’s look at two well-known examples of static characters from English literature

Sherlock Holmes is arguably the world’s most iconic detective

He’s most famous for his incredible deductive powers and his tendency to show off

For example, he lacks all common knowledge that isn’t pertinent to his cases, uses cocaine regularly,

These unchanging characteristics make him memorable and immediately recognizable

Alice, the main character of Alice in Wonderland, falls through a rabbit hole and ends up in

When she returns to her own world at the end of the book, she’s still essentially

It was a wonderful dream, but one that left her ultimately unchanged

Now let’s look at two dynamic character examples from English literature

When Anne Shirley first arrives at Green Gables, she’s a homely but lovable eleven-year-old orphan

She’s garrulous, chattering about everything her active imagination can dream up

She learns to control her temper, talking things out instead of reacting in anger

Even after she grows up, however, she still has her joie de vivre, her passionate optimism, and

In the first Harry Potter book, Neville is an awkward, anxious boy who constantly misplaces things and

He shows courage when he stands up to the protagonists as they’re sneaking out of Gryffindor

In the fifth book, he joins Dumbledore’s Army, practices defensive spells, and risks his life to

Neville is a fan favorite among readers because we’ve watched him undergo such a major change

To write static characters well, it’s important to understand the role each character plays in the

After all, not all static characters serve the same function

If the static character is a comic relief character, make them funny while still ensuring that they’

For example, if you want a character who believes the world is fair, have the world throw

You can even have your protagonist’s static traits begin to influence the world around them, too

Maybe others start playing fair after seeing how your character encounters obstacles

Begin by deciding the start and end point for your dynamic character, so you can make sure

Or you could create a negative arc by having them start out compassionate and end up selfish

The bigger the difference between the start point and the end point, the more dynamic and powerful

Once you know the start and end points, you need to figure out how the conflicts within

Maybe the self-centered character hurts someone they love and realizes they need to be more considerate

It’s important to remember that character and plot go hand in hand

Your character’s growth should affect their choices, and their choices should affect their growth

Finally, remember that some core aspects of a dynamic character’s personality need to remain the same,

There you have it—a complete guide to static vs dynamic characters

Who are your favorite static and dynamic characters in books and movies? Let us know in the

Interested in learning more about character development and conflict? Check out our article about man vs self