Round Characters Vs. Flat Characters


Last week we discussed researching your characters, the processes some writers use, and some other ideas you might use. Don’t forget that a reader will notice how well you researched your characters by how they fall on the page. Did you find any of the methods mentioned last week helpful? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Our conversation inevitably led to the round versus flat character comparison, so that’s what we’ll address today.


Round characters show complexities, develop through the story, and surprise readers from time to time. Flat characters are two-dimensional figures that don’t change and remain uncomplicated throughout the work. You need both types of characters for a story, but knowing when to use them is what makes the difference.

Flat Characters:

Flat characters are your staples, feeders, and your cliché characters. While you don’t want your protagonist to be that flat character, they have their own uses in your story. Let’s get a difference out of the way. Flat character arcs don’t mean a flat character. A flat character arc means the character doesn’t change, but they change the world around them. A flat character is used to move the plot along.

So, a flat character becomes less interesting than their opposite, the round character. Often, you’ll find them supporting the main character, somewhat replaceable, and they live with a narrow scope or perspective and opinions. But this doesn’t mean someone created poorly written characters, but that they exist on one level to fulfill a story’s purpose.

Example of Flat Characters:

Crabbe and Goyle from Harry Potter are basically thugs that back up their best friend, Draco Malfoy. If you look back at their storyline, you won’t see much change. They begin as mean little boys and become death eaters as He Who Must Not Be Named grows in power. Their purpose is to back up Malfoy and torment anyone outside of their house. They are a more memorable duo because of their constant proximity to the main characters, but it surprises no one when they die, nor is anyone at a significant loss. That sounds a little cold, but these two are prime examples of flat characters.

Round Characters:

Round characters often find themselves at the front of your page, chapter, and book. These are the characters that people come back to your stories for. They transform as they journey through the novel and have layers beyond each page. These are often your protagonists but can also be your antagonists. The Round character is someone that the readers know deeper than what happens in each scene. 

Example of a Round Character:

Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby is a great example of a round character. While his image may seem a constant in the first part of the book, F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals more through gossip between characters and Nick Carraway’s interactions with the popular Mr. Gatsby. As you read The Great Gatsby, watch how the layers of Gatsby’s background and behaviors unfold in each event. Jay Gatsby begins as a man of esteem and mystery and ends a normal man, with few attending his funeral. The great thing about Gatsby is that he doesn’t need to be present to influence the plot of the story. He drives people into an obsession to know more about himself, his money, or his past, just by existing. 


Set aside fifteen to twenty minutes today to assess the character you’re creating. Determine if they are a round or flat character. If they’re flat, do they have a round character they’re sharing their story with? Or do you need to add some layers to your character? If they’re there for just one purpose, then maybe you’re telling the story from the wrong perspective. Don’t change your novel’s point of view (POV) today. I just want you to think about it. If you have time and want to assess another character in your story, do so. I’d love to hear the results as you worked through these questions. Add some questions you asked yourself in the comments below to help other writers think of similar topics.


Don’t forget that you need both round and flat characters to fill the pages of your book. Every character needs development up to a certain point, but that will vary between characters. The round versus flat character debate is constant and as long as they’re well written, you can justify any main character. Next week, we’ll talk about selecting your main character. I hope this post has helped you on another step toward becoming an Author of Tomorrow.

Previous: Researching Your Characters

Next: Selecting Your Story’s Main Character

2 thoughts on “Round Characters Vs. Flat Characters

  1. Pingback: Researching Your Character – Myers Fiction

  2. Pingback: Selecting Your Story’s Main Character – Myers Fiction

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.