Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photo Tuesday - Character Growth

Character growth is an essential part of any good story.

As writers, it helps if we view our characters as children. They come to us incomplete and not well versed in the ways of the world. Perhaps they lack in a crucial area, such as people skills or talent. Perhaps they are prisoners of their environment. Quite often they begin with personal challenges, hang-ups and inconsistencies.

As the story progresses, our characters start to change. Their hearts grow and they develop a greater capacity for emotion. Perhaps challenges force them to become stronger or bolder. Maybe the situations in their life cause them to question what they thought they knew. Often they become like gangly teenagers, stumbling and failing and struggling to find their place in life.

By the end of our tale, those characters grow up. Like a caterpillar to a butterfly, they are changed creatures. Hopefully for the best, although sometimes the growth is not considered positive. But regardless of the direction, the characters are different and this growth is unmistakable.

And we hope that by experiencing this transformation through our characters, our readers will come away changed as well!

Okay, maybe not THAT changed!


Lillie Ammann said...


I just wrote a post on character growth throughout the story. It's the final installment in an 8-part series on character development.

This post is so great I'm going to edit my post and add a link here.

Lillie Ammann
A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

Morgan Mandel said...

A story without some kind of character growth is dull and flat. You do need some kind of change, hopefully for the good, unless it's a Stephen King kind of book or monster picture. Must be your last photo that made me think of that.

Morgan Mandel

Unknown said...

We're given a wonderful opportunity when reading to take a look at ourselves. A character makes choices, encounters and deals with problems and issues, and hopefully grows from those experiences. Characters can indirectly influence us, cause us to have new or different perspectives, thus growing and learning ourselves.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I love the way this piece of good writing advice is illustrated!

Marvin D Wilson said...

Good analogy and well illustrated. But if your characters ever grow into that last image, maybe you should consider switching genres? lol

The Old Silly

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Wow, Lillie, thank you! I am so honored. I have an article on developing characters and teach sessions when I visit schools, but didn't want to get into that much detail here.

And Morgan, think I should tackle horror sometime?

Okie said...

great post and so true. Far too often, I start out a work expecting my character to be fully fleshed out and completely alive to both me and the story.

However, when I go back and re-read, I notice that my character evolves so much over the course of the writing that I usually have to go back and re-write much of the early text because the character has changed so much.

Helen Ginger said...

Good post with excellent visuals. Not always, but most of the time, stagnant characters lead to stagnant sales.

Straight From Hel

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Don't want those static sales!

Jenners said...

I love this post and the photos that went along with it ... wasn't expecting that last one though!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I love your photo days. They must be lots of work!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My photo day is one of the funnest! I am very much a visual person, and since I'm also a professional photographer, I've lots of images upon which to draw.
I get to combine my two loves - photography & writing!