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I would like to know what types of characters are needed in order to create a good novel in general.  (What should the character list of a book look like and what characters have the most impact on the reader?)

Hello Brian:

What an excellent question! I'm not sure what you mean by the "types" of characters; you may have to come back with another question to cover that. But in general, you'll need a main character (protagonist) through whose eyes the reader will experience the action. This may be a narrator who may or may not appear in the action; you yourself (1st Person); or a God-like person who knows everything that goes on and can hop from the view of one character to the view of another, at will. Beyond that, you'll need an opposition character (antagonist) who is in direct conflict with the protagonist. The main character may be in conflict with: himself, another person, society, nature or God. The antagonist may have a few underlings or a great many, like an army.

Usually the character list (rather rare these days) in a book will feature the name on the left and a few sentences to identify the character on the right. This site does not hold formatting or I would give you an example. If you would like to email me at I will send you an example.

The characters who have the most impact on the reader would be those that are fully delveloped; are easy of identification (are people like the reader); or in some other way are memorable. As princely an author as Wm. Shakespeare gave his characters odd quirks and mannerisms that help us remember them. They may be memorable because of what happens to them in the book and for no other reason (like Alice in Wonderland, or Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz), or for what they learned through the course of the book, like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, and which the reader also learns. Not all characters need to be fully developed, but certainly the protagonist and antagonist and in a full-length novel, 5-8 others, should be well-rounded characters.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 480+ questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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