At the end of your story, no matter whether fiction or non-fiction, did your characters go through a transformation? I’m not talking about a temporary change, but a transition – a passage from one state, place, stage or form to another? Or are they the same as they started?
If not, don’t worry you’re not alone. However, that really makes for a poor character and a poor writer. In fiction, we get to make up ‘most’ of the universe in which our characters live, but without development, the characters will remain one-dimensional and risk being un-relatable. Are you the same person you were 5, 10, 15 or more years ago? I do know that for some people, that answer will be yes, but for the majority of us, it will be no.
You couldn’t pay me enough to be 15, 20, 25¸or 30 years old again. I felt way too much on my road to self-identification. I could never go back to the state where every feeling, every decision, every hope and every fear was magnified to the millionth degree. Perhaps it’s because I’m older, but I choose to no longer live in the extremes. I don’t get carried away in the excitement of my hopes, but I also don’t fall apart under the mountain of my fears.
I still believe that all things are possible, but I don’t let my hope in those things define me. I don’t feel like I have to put everything on the line to make the dream possible. I already believe the dream is possible. As long as I keep it alive, it will happen in its own time; at its own pace. I quit trying to control it – to force it to happen. I learned that all my efforts didn’t change anything – just my stress level. I also don’t feel I have to save the world from itself. I’m not God. It’s not my job. I just concentrate on me, and let the rest of the world take care of its’ self. Again – I learned that all my efforts didn’t change anything – just my stress level. I can’t change anyone else but me. I used to try, but I discovered it was useless. They have to want to change for themselves. I still believe there’s evil in the world, but I don’t allow my fear to control me. I’ve learned to be sensible and take rational precautions, but I can’t guard against tragedy. While I don’t let my hope move me ahead too quickly (making choices based on my feelings), I don’t allow my fear to stop me. If you knew me 10 years ago, you wouldn’t recognize the person I am today. My character developed.
So, as you consider characters in your book, ask yourself a few simple questions – did my characters learn anything, did they change their hearts and minds about something, did they develop? Or are they the same from Prologue to Epilogue?
Till next time,