This picture of my sister and I was taken when I was six years old. The one in the yellow dress is me. Boy, does time change things, except of course when it is chore time. Somehow I still want to be too little about then.
The little girl who loved climbing trees and playing school in the playhouse in our backyard has her feet firmly planted on the ground. No more tree climbing. No more mud pies. Well, occasionally mud pies with my kids.
The things I do now show my journey from being a girl to an adult. I didn’t get there overnight. There were plenty of scrapes and bruises and a few broken hearts, but I have grown up.
Has your character grown up yet?
Sometimes I’m amazed at the lack of transformation in a character from the beginning to the end of a story. Or, the character goes from 5 to 50 years old in 300 pages. When this happens the reader misses the impact of our character’s journey.
Here’s five tips to show you how to make the character’s transformation a journey:
*Give Your Character A Lie They Believe or Something They Need To Change Inside. Establish this before you even start writing. Yes, even you pantsers. Give your character something they need to change about themselves.
For example, in the book Submerged by Dani Pettrey we see the character at the beginning feels unworthy to be loved. Throughout the story she has an opportunity to grow to the understanding that she is indeed worthy to be loved.
More tips on the lie journey can be found at My Book Therapy.
*Show That Your Character Needs To Change Early In The Novel. Through some action or event the need to change is made evident to the reader, but the character either can’t see it, or doesn’t want to see it.
For example, in the book Baby It’s Cold Outside by Susan May Warren we as the reader see that the heroine needs to change, to let go of bitterness and chose to live. She doesn’t want to acknowledge it herself.
*Grow In Baby Steps. Allow your character to change little bits at a time. They can’t take a giant leap from beginning to end and satisfy the reader. It must come one step at a time.
A great example of this type of change can be found in Beth K. Vogt’s Wish You Were Here.
*Avoid Spiritual Truth Dumping Scenes. As a pastor’s daughter I can tell you that a lot of times the truth is realized through the lives of other believers sharing their life experiences with us, the truth they’ve learned. A sermon can be a powerful introduction to truth, but it takes more than a sermon in your novel to show a character is going to accept the truth.
A great example of this is found in Lisa Jordan’s Lakeside Reunion.
*Pick Voices of Truth That Are Believable. The person who shares the truth with your character that brings them to a point of change, should be someone your character would listen too. Sometimes an enemy can even speak the truth.
One of my favorite truth speakers is Karen Ball’s Shattered Justice. An elderly woman who sat on a bench near the town action arguing with her best friend. The unexpectedness of the truth caught the hero by surprise.
What books changed you or what book do you think is a great example of the inner journey of a character?