Tips by Samantha Stone
Originally posted on creativewritingsoftware101.com
Just as in real life, characters on a page change and develop throughout your story. This is natural and should happen. You can write a story without any character development, but those types of stories are usually noted just for that reason – a character’s refusal or inability to learn or respond to the events around them.
Don’t let your character drift around in this developmental arc. Plan your character’s growth and reactions with events, interaction with other characters, and from inner turmoil or conflict. Often characters are at war with themselves or their beliefs, and this can affect their overall character change.
Use these 10 tips to keep your character arc on track for believable development.
1. Who Is the Character at the Beginning?
Decide who your character is and why they need to change. In the Christmas favorite A Christmas Carol, Scrooge changes from a cantankerous, heartless man into a caring and generous one. Think of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.
2. Inner Demons
Secrets your character hides can be a driving force in who they are. Denial can keep your character falsely happy and guilt can haunt your character into madness. This was one of Shakespeare’s favorite devices.
3. Perception of Self
Your character’s self-image may be their worst enemy. Something your character sees as a fault may be exaggerated or may not exist at all. A character thinking they’re too fat, too ugly, stupid, or even superior to others are perceptions that can be changed or altered within the storyline. In the play and movie The Seven Year Itch, a pulp fiction editor sees himself as a skirt-chasing fiend trying to corner the blonde from upstairs – but he’s not. His fantasy life is exaggerated in his mind and has invaded when his wife and child are away for the summer.
4. Show the Character Changing
Give the reader the eyewitness view of the character changing. Show the obstacles overcome, the decisions made, the failures and wins. It doesn’t always have to be pretty.