Do readers need to identify with fictional characters?

Asked by: Frank Beckwith

In a story the reader needs to be able to imagine him/herself inside of the world created by the author. If the characters are not relatable or identifiable in some way there is no way for the reader to immerse.

Why is identifying with a character important?

There is abundant evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that identification with a narrative character can have various and important effects on the reading experience. Additionally, identifying with a character can have important effects on the audience’s beliefs and attitudes in real life.

Why do we identify fictional characters?

“The experiences with fictional characters resonate with us because of the fact that we’ve had deep experiences with people throughout our lives.” Empathy and sympathy are phenomena we experience almost daily in our dealings with others, and they play key roles in the way we respond to fictional characters.

How can a reader identify with a character in a story?

“Identification can be established easily if the characters create emotion which we recognize at once,” says Lajos Egri. “And in writing, as in life, identification must be established through emotion.” By emotion, Mr. Egri means the “universal emotions such as love, hate, jealousy, fear, greed.”

Can you tell a story without a character?

Essentially, you can’t have a story without a character because, without anyone to see the story unfold, there can’t be a story to be told in the first place.

Do fictional characters affect our real life?

Fictional characters can influence readers in real life, a study has found. Durham University researchers surveyed more than 1,500 readers and asked 400 of those to provide detailed descriptions of their experiences with a book.

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What is it called when you identify with a character?

He states that there are two kinds of identification that occur for the viewer; primary identification, in which the viewer identifies with the camera, and secondary identification, in which the viewer identifies with the characters onscreen.

Are character arcs necessary?

Abandoning the arc

Before exploring these exceptions, however, it’s important to acknowledge that character arcs are important. They create the sense of a ‘journey’ through the book, and allow the readers to both understand and be surprised by interesting characters.

What if there is no protagonist?

Protagonist and antagonist are simply the elements of conflict. If there’s no conflict, there’s no story. Even in stories where there are no characters who fill the roles of “antagonist” or “protagonist”, the antagonist and protagonist simply become something abstract and conceptual.

Is there a story with no protagonist?

No. But those kind of characters aren’t INTERESTING. The protagonist is primarily the main character, so unless you aren’t going to have a main character, you can’t really have no protagonist (although a protagonist could take other forms).

Can minor characters be protagonists?

It’s true. Minor characters can make or break a story. Add minor characters with a purpose, and you can establish a protagonist or polish a memorable scene. Add too much detail about a minor character or drown your story with too many of them, and your novel might self-implode.

What does deuteragonist mean in English?

Definition of deuteragonist

1 : the actor taking the part of second importance in a classical Greek drama. 2 : a person who serves as a foil to another.

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Can a protagonist be a side character?

Some writers like to mix it up by choosing someone that does not have the central role in the story and tell the story from their perspective. This is the Supporting Protagonist: someone who would normally be a secondary character by conventions of the genre but is actually the main character in the story.

What is a foil character?

In literature, authors will sometimes highlight certain aspects of a character’s personality by using a foil: a supporting character who has a contrasting personality and set of values. Putting the foil and main character in close proximity helps draw readers’ attention to the latter’s attributes.

What is a flat character?

A flat character is a character with little to no complex emotions, motivations, or personality. They also don’t undergo any kind of change to make them more well-rounded. In other words, they’re the opposite of a “round character,” who has a fully fleshed out profile and changes throughout the story.

How many main characters is too many?

A good rule of thumb might be: Include as many characters as needed to tell the story and evoke the proper style and scope—and no more. For intimate novels, this number might be as small as 2-5 secondary characters, and for broader stories, this number might be 20-30.

How many POVs can you have in a novel?

There’s no hard and fast rule about how many POVs you should limit yourself to. Some experts and writing coaches will tell you no more than 3 to 5 POVs. But it’s your story to tell, so you should decide who tells it and how.

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Can a story have two protagonists?

Dual protagonists are characters who are both the central actors in a story, work toward a shared or similar goal, and take up approximately the same amount of screen time. Like most protagonists in film, they must both embark on inner and outer journeys that culminate in an emotional or physical change.

What is the most important character called?


Protagonist: The main character of the story is the protagonist.

What does Tetartagonist mean?

The Deuteragonist is the second actor or the second most important actor in the narrative, Tritagonist is the third actor, Tetartagonist is the fourth actor, Pentagonist is the fifth actor, and so on.

What is a tritagonist?

Definition of tritagonist

: the actor taking the part of third importance in a play (as in the ancient Greek theater) — compare deuteragonist, protagonist.

Can a villain be a deuteragonist?

The deuteragonist is the secondary character, right behind the protagonist in importance. The deuteragonist may be on the protagonist’s side: for example, a love interest or sidekick. Or the deuteragonist can be a villain, like the protagonist’s main rival. The deuteragonist could also be a neutral character.

What is a secondary tritagonist?

In literature, the deuteragonist (/ˌdjuːtəˈræɡənɪst/ DEW-tə-RAG-ə-nist; from Ancient Greek δευτεραγωνιστής (deuteragōnistḗs) ‘second actor’) or secondary main character is the second most important character of a narrative, after the protagonist and before the tritagonist.

What is the second most important character in a book called?


The definition of a deuteragonist (from the Greek deuteragōnistēs, for “second actor”) is the second most important and present character in a story—often called a secondary main character.