Journey To Change – 5 Tips To Develop The Inner Journey Of Your Character

As a young girl I remember wanting to be all grown up. Right. Now. Until of course it was chore time, then I wanted to be too little with all of my heart.

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?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

10 thoughts on “Journey To Change – 5 Tips To Develop The Inner Journey Of Your Character

  1. Goodness, you named really good ones. Rachel Hauck’s The Wedding Dress is a good example of character growth. The heroine doesn’t believe the dress will fit–in more ways than one.

    Great post, Michelle…and you didn’t have to tell me which little girl was you–I knew as soon as I saw the photo.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    The Wedding Dress is a great example! Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Lisa Jordan says:

    I picked you out by your smile. Such a cute photo. And thanks for mentioning my book! I loved Susie May Warren’s book, My Foolish Heart, as examples of character growth for both main characters. I don’t want to give anything away, but it portrayed triumph over fear.

  4. dtopliff says:

    Very nice picture–fun to see.

  5. What a cute picture. The Wedding Dress is a great example. Also, Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins shows the growth of three women as they try to figure out who the killer is. They change and help each other through the process.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Jackie! The Wedding Dress and Gone To Ground are both fabulous examples of character change.

  7. What an adorable picture. I picked you out, too! (The glint in your eye gave you away!!) This is exactly what I needed to read today, and it’s been Bookmarked! Thanks, Michelle, for these wonderful bits of advice and warning!!

  8. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Patti! I’m so glad you’ve been encouraged.

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