Favourite character types

Over at the Bransforums, one of the members started a thread asking what people’s favourite character archtypes were, and providing examples of some of their own. I definitely have certain character types I gravitate to – I’ve posted about this before, a bit. Here’s a slightly different look at it, with a broader roster.

  • I’ve got two that are my favourite protagonist types:
    • The outwardly cool, put-together, confident character who’s extremely skilled in some area (whether by talent or hard work) and capable of looking after themselves just fine, thank-you-very-much (often this personality is developed as a defense mechanism)… but who has an inner soft side and vulnerability that’s not often seen but will tear you up when it is. Eg. BBC’s Sherlock Holmes (from the tv show Sherlock); Will Herondale (Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork series).
    • The character to whom it seems it’s one bad thing/roadblock after another happening, but who, despite some inner insecurities, finds the strength of will to forge ahead anyway, even in the face of what seems like near-certain failure, and because of their perseverance (and a bit of luck, and some good friends) keeps coming out on top (but without losing their kindness/goodness). Eg. Harry Potter (Harry Potter); Puck Connolly (The Scorpio Races).
  • Also, for side characters, the character who is bright and (sometimes) funny, but incredibly loyal and generally quiet, staying at the edges of the main character’s limelight but always there at a moment’s notice, should the main character need help. Eg. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter, esp #7); Jem Carstairs (Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork series).
  • And villains who are more layered than they seem; who are largely good beneath their bad exterior; who maybe, given different circumstances in life, could have ended up the good guy; who are bad not because they are bad, but because of decisions they made when bad things happened to them, or because their current circumstances necessitate it. Eg. Severus Snape (possibly my favourite villain ever); Lord Vetinari (Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series).

I found it interesting, as I was thinking about my favourite book characters and what they had in common, that I’ve been pretty consistent in including these character types in my own novels. Not always exactly the same, of course (and certainly there’re other character types among the cast, too), but most of the primary characters are similar enough to be able to group them into these categories. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing (branding) or bad (repetitive)…


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