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Static characters

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Oct. 4, 2019

A dynamic character is one that undergoes important changes or developments over the course of the story. They learn lessons, come to realisations and are ultimately a different person, be it for good or bad, by the end of the narrative. A static character is, put simply, the opposite of that. They do not experience growth and who they are at the beginning is who they are at the end. So here are some possible scenarios where you can use a static character.

When your plot is story driven
If the story is plot driven, meaning that the story moves forward as a result of action rather than character wants and needs, having static characters can provide a balance to that. You’re not going to have as much time to go into a character’s backstory due to all the action and potential explosions and that’s fine. The focus is on the events that are unfolding so they characters are less likely to change.

When your character has been there and got the t-shirt
An old mentor figure is more likely to be on the static side when they’ve been around the block a few times. They’ve learnt all the lessons and are now ready to pass them down to those willing to learn.

When your character is an NPC
Not every character needs to be complex or experience growth. When every character is competing for their own arc it can get super crowded. Having a static It makes sense then, that if a character is non-essential, they don’t need to have the same level of attention given to their development as a main cast member.

Are there other uses for static characters? Do you have many in your comic? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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ShaRose49 at 4:44PM, Oct. 4, 2019

@Banes, you make a good point about non-changing characters contrasting the changing ones. I could see this being very effective for some things.

ShaRose49 at 4:42PM, Oct. 4, 2019

Not every character needs to grow, but I think that the main characters should, generally speaking. But certain core personality traits can remain for sure. I’ll admit this isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about or know a lot about though, but I personally love watching characters grow, even in small ways, especially over the course of a series. My sister and I have gotten really far into a mystery/drama series where the main character is so obsessed with getting to the bottom of the conspiracy that he almost severely neglects his personal life and relationships. It was so cool to watch him slowly realize this (over the course of 30+ episodes) and to eventually decide that the people in his life are more important than solving the mystery, and goes so far as to sacrifice valuable info for them.

usedbooks at 10:32AM, Oct. 4, 2019

I also really love when a character is offered the chance to change and refuses. Whether a villain or a protagonist, being given that moment of decision says a lot about the character. They might be given a temptation to change for the worse (or pressured by difficult odds) or they may be offered redemption and refuse. I love characters that resist change despite all odds.

usedbooks at 10:27AM, Oct. 4, 2019

In episodic TV series, characters should be mostly static. Character "growth" will kill the series. (In a drama/soap opera, dynamic everything is fine, though.) Character relationships can evolve, but the characters themselves need to maintain something firm and predictable. Revealing things about themselves to the audience is definitely different from change. Why is he like that? Oh. Interesting. He's still like that, though.

Banes at 8:36AM, Oct. 4, 2019

Having these stock characters reveal character, not just change. It's fun to see how certain characters, especially unusual ones, will react to the stock bureaucrat, con artist, cop or whatever.

Banes at 8:34AM, Oct. 4, 2019

Great stuff! There's definitely a place for unchanging characters - it can show how the changing Protagonist...well, changes. The way they relate to the unchanging types can show their own change. There's also the reverse, with an unchanging Protagonist or major character who causes change or at least contrasts to the changing people and changing world around them. Forrest Gump, or Rain Man, or Hannibal Lecter. I remember the Brad Pitt character in 'Legends of the Fall' - the people around him changed (and died) a lot, but he didn't change much at his core. The narrator said "he was the rock they broke themselves against."

marcorossi at 3:53AM, Oct. 4, 2019

This is an expansion on the "mentor" example: I think that some characters are just symbolic, and therefore they have to be static. For example suppose that in a story there is a guy who is a muscle-brain, and he is often a comic relief charachter both because he is stupid and because he is stupidly strong. This kind of character represent a certain social stereotipe about men, and therefore he'll be muscle-brained from the beginning to the end of the story. Mentors also often represent something, and therefore they too can't change during the story arc. IMHO.

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