Four Primary Character Functions
There are four primary character functions:
The job of this character is to propel the story forward. This character’s desire to achieve the
goal is a crucial aspect of the story. His decisions motivate his actions and explain why the
pursuit of this goal is necessary–given the character’s background, beliefs, desires, and commitments.
The antagonist or nemesis is the character who most opposes the protagonist as the former attempts to pursue his goal. This character is a visible and persistent generator of conflict in
the story. Without him it is difficult to muster enough energy to drive events forward.
A mirror character, also known as a reflection or support character is one who is most aligned
with the protagonist. This character function supports the protagonist and adds color and
resonance by helping to make her more credible through dialogue and action. Without this
character as foil, it is difficult to create a protagonist who can examine herself without resorting
to stilted monologues or static inwardly-reflective scenes.
This character is the object of your protagonist’s romantic desires–the reward delivered at the
end of the journey. The romance character may also, however, support or bedevil the
protagonist’s pursuit of the goal–at least initially. This is because without conflict, the relationship degrades into stasis and boredom. Ultimately, however, the protagonist and his love interest end up together to live happily (or unhappily) ever after.