Friday, 20 May 2011

How Characters Change

Let me start off by saying I'm a bad blogger. I mean a REALLY bad blogger. I think this is namely because when I start blogging, I start thinking I should be doing something else: writing some chapters, deleting some words or moving scenes around--something, anything to make The Manuscript better.

That said, I want to blog... I need to blog. I need share a little about what I've been working on with The Manuscript. Today I've been working on how character's change.

So what happens is that the narrator and her family go through The Really Horrible Experience (ie the inciting incident), which, I'm pleased announce, thanks to a little editing magic, now happens in the second chapter instead of the sixth. PHEW! Let's hear it for editing magic. It's my fave.

Let me tell you a little secret... any really horrible experience changes a person. The way they view the world, their attitude, the way they react to things/people... it can put strain on relationships that were once easy and it can form relationships that would never have once been possible. It could make a character stronger or weaker. Tear down or reinforce values, morals or beliefs. It could make them shut down or able to see things they'd never seen before.

So, what I've been doing is looking at each of these family members, before and after TRHE. For example:

There's S. Before TRHE, S is driven, sensible and very methodical. After TRHE, S questions the frailty of life and fails to see the point anymore. S becomes lazy, haphazard and distant to family (which S associates with TRHE).

Then we have F. Before TRHE, F is adventurous and ambitious. TRHE doesn't seem to effect F in quite the same negative way as S because, unlike any other character in the book, F deals with TRHE emotionally. But still, F becomes hesitant of adventure.

There's conflict in just the way these two characters' attitudes and views have changed from TRHE. But I wonder about my narrator. I wonder how she changes. I keep replaying it in my head and she seems to go from strength to danger. From patience to anger. And a big part of her journey comes from her eventually despising who she's become--someone very similar to a character she seriously dislikes--and how she becomes the person she wants to be. And it's not easy. In trying to become someone she wants to be, someone that she's not, someone better, she constantly falls back into her angry, dangerous rut.

Writers... does anyone else have something like this in their WIP? How do you handle the changing of priorities and attitudes or do you have your MC remain the same through the changing world around him/her?

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