Made in America

Flat Character: Who Is It?

Books are comprised of main characters, antagonists, protagonists (stay tuned for a future blog post on them!), and a variety of different characters who bring the story to life and support the overall plot. In today’s blog, we’re focusing on one in particular – a flat character.

As we develop our main characters, we want to make them relatable. We want to give them characteristics and certain traits that make them seem real and provide a source of connection with the reader. In short, we want our main characters to change and grow throughout the story so that our readers can live vicariously through them.

So while the main characters play an integral role and come with layers that the readers can peel back and discover, every storyline needs some additional characters that support the primary players and the plot, but about whom the reader doesn’t need to know too many details. This type of character is known as a flat character.

Creating a flat character is rather easy as you only have to develop them within the context of the main character’s storyline. Generally speaking, a flat character only reveals one, maybe two personality traits throughout the duration of the story. These traits do not change; in essence, they are usually one- or two-dimensional. While a flat character might not seem important, the interactions that they have with the main characters play an integral role in the overall plot.

One way to think of a flat character is as a supporting actor in a movie – this character doesn’t have as much screen time as the main character; however, their role is  still important in moving the story forward.

An example of a flat character could be a waitress who’s serving a milkshake at the local diner. While you might not pay too much attention to this detail, this character could ultimately advance the plot.

Flat characters have their place, and can often act as supplemental pieces to the story or as an easy way to create a shortcut to help keep the plot moving forward in the right direction.

In short, think of a flat character as a backdrop to the main scene of a play. They’re there, they’re providing context and they are doing one job and one job only – to support the main characters and the story as a whole.

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2017

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