Hallo and welcome to this new lesson from Scrittissimo.
Today I want to analyze two technical tools that determine the construction and the Characterization of any Cast member, that is ROLE and FUNCTION.
But before starting this lesson there’s something I want to tell you. This article is the translation in English language of another article written by myself in Italian and titled: “Differenza tra Ruolo e Funzione del Personaggio”
So I do apologize in advance for any translation error, for any English grammar error and for any syntax error. So, let’s go forward with this lesson!
Difference between Role and Function
The Role and the Function are the two peculiar aspects that each Character brings with him/her whenever it appears on the pages of your Novel because they determine how he/she will behave within the Story.
What is the Character Role?
The Role is the level of importance that each Character holds within the Hierarchy of the Cast.
That means that essential Characters such the Protagonist and the Coprotagonist (if present!) reside at the top of that ranking, followed a small step down by the Antagonist, then by the group of Primary Characters, then by the group of Secondary Characters, and finally by the group of Extras.
Here is the Cast Hierarchy explained in this image:
However, the Character Role doesn’t consist into a simple “ranking position”. The Character Role is much more! It establishes the amount of technical assignments that every Cast Member has to support within the Story.
And the Protagonist is, without any doubt, the Character who brings on his shoulders the greatest number of them!
What is Character Function?
The Function is the way in which each Character expresses him/herself in relation to his/her role, to the aims of the Story and to the Narrative Genre
It sounds quite complicated as a concept! It’s actually much simpler than it seems.
In essence, the Function – usually summarized in one word – determines which will be the attitude and the Personality of that Character within the Story.
It establishes what Character will support – for example – the Function of Wise or the Funcion of Skeptical.
Or which Character will support the Function of Shoulder, of Hero, or Anti-Hero and so on.
Moreover, not all Functions are suitable for any Role. Some, such as the Hero or the Antihero are more indicated for the Protagonist or for the Antagonist, while others such as the Wise or the Skeptical fit better to Primary Characters or Secondary Characters.
However, if Characters Roles are a definite and delimited group, the same can not be said for the Character Functions! They are numerous and they depend strictly on the contents of the Story and on the Narrative Genre which they belong.
Some experts identify the various Character Functions with the human archetypes studied by Jung or with the Nine Enneagram Types.
They certainly represent a good starting point for beginners.
This explains why the union between Role and Function is the essence of the Characterization of any Character.
That’s all for today.
See you soon on the next lesson on Scrittissimo.
Author & Admin of SCRITTISSIMO: ideas, techniques and tips to write a Novel, a Tale, a Story.