Writing a novel has demanding aspects, featuring character creation as your top priority. Your characters need to be authentic, believable, complex and all-rounded, like any human being with an actual personality. This is what we call a round character.
Though your characters may be fictional, they still need to be relatable to the audience. For your story to have an impact, no matter the genre, your protagonist should be dynamic and bursting with personality.
Now let’s dive into the details of a round character.
History of the Round Character
The concept of “round character” was coined by a British novelist, E.M. Forster. Apart from novel writing, Forster also created essays and was a literary and social critic. He pioneered the concept of round character in his 1927 book called Aspects of the Novel.
In his book, Forster ventured into the aspects of a round character as well as its contrasting term, the “flat character.” He is also famously recognized for his other novels A Passage to India (1924) and Howard’s End (1910).
Features of a Round Character
We’ve highlighted below the main characteristics of a round character:
- Multiple personalities: Any real-life individual has multiple facets to their personality. This should be the same with your round character. He or she should feel human to your readers.
- They are unpredictable: The more surprising aspects they have, the more striking your round characters will appear to your readers. Sometimes people can be hard to predict, and that’s what makes them interesting. Your round character’s growth should be in a manner such that your readers are sometimes shocked by their actions.
- They evolve: An ideal round character is dynamic. They should be transformed significantly throughout your story.
- They are believable: Human beings are multiplex, so your well-rounded characters should be life-like to make the story believable.
The Protagonist is a Round Character
Generally, your main character should always be a round character. You can choose to work with one protagonist or more where the extra key players are also well-rounded and dynamic.
An attentively crafted round character keeps your story believable, interesting and fresh. If your protagonist isn’t dynamic and doesn’t go through any transformation by the end of the story, chances are your readers will let your sequel get dusty in the bookshelves (if you choose to release a sequel).
But before you cut your novel short and give up on being an author because your first or second book didn’t impress the audience, don’t forget that some rules can be broken and your novel could still emerge the best your readers ever read!
It makes sense for your main characters to be round. However, there are a handful of successful novels with flat characters as the protagonist. Though unconventional, it works effectively for the lucky novelists who know how to craftily make their main characters relatable despite being flat.
Charles Dickens is a genius in putting his protagonist flat characters in the spotlight. Take for example David Copperfield and Oliver Twist- they are both flat main characters with very few interesting qualities and almost no self-drive. They are abused, misused and even taken advantage of by other people while they fail to defend themselves.
However, what keeps these narrations juicy is the circumstances and situations surrounding them, such as economic and social injustice. So the protagonists might not be the subject of interest to readers, but the highly controversial context keeps readers tuned.
While it is important to observe the guidelines and rules of creating round characters, knowing that there is an exception to everything, especially when writing novels, is what makes you a successful writer.
Examples of Round Characters
There are perfect examples of round characters in literature and the media, from children’s books to thriller movies. Round characters are great for increasing the richness of stories in our modern world.
Round Characters in Classic Writings
Classic pieces will always be remembered. Surpassing this are the masterpieces that will never be outdated.
Below are some notable classic stories that make the best examples of round characters:
Hamlet is undeniably a complex round character. Though charming, intelligent and considerate, he is too quick to make decisions and this eventually causes his downfall. While his personality is a detriment to himself he faces several contradictory and unique cases where his true nature and motivation is observed.
Harry Potter’s personality is developed throughout his book series. Both past and present experiences transform him as his family situation influences his feelings and ambitions. By the end of the story, Harry Potter had grown so much from the fearful little boy with no parents that he was almost unrecognizable, in a good way naturally.
Most of our writers on LivingWriter are dedicated to the Fantasy genre. They try to create characters and worlds as magical and exciting as those in the Harry Potter books with the help of Story Elements. The Story Element feature in LivingWriter makes it easy for you to keep track of each character and world-building element in your story. Don’t forget to give it a shot!
Round Characters in Disney
Disney is highly known for churning stories that are simple and enjoyable for people of all ages. Looking at some examples of Disney’s protagonists and their story-lines will make the concept of round characters easier to understand.
The Grinch is a mean character that runs like a lone wolf. His hideous character, though, is influenced by his experience, since he was bullied and excommunicated by the town when he was young. This eventually out pours his character and personality.
With the help of Cindy Lou Who, he manages to overcome his fears and reconciles with the town that had banished him.
Jasmine is a round character that is also undeviating. This is a rather queer combination for the main character but it worked and we all loved this Middle Eastern princess!
Jasmine is complex, Which can be noticed as she reveals multiple personalities. Her many qualities showcased her desires and ambitions.
On the other hand, she is a static character as she does not go through any change throughout the story. She remains compassionate and kind yet stubborn from the beginning of the story to the end.
Create your Round Characters
Now that you know what a round character is, look at some of your favorite novels and movies and practice identifying the round characters.
Keep the essence of a round character in mind when you are crafting your own stories, and with the help of LivingWriter, you could create the next Harry Potter or Harlem!