How To Create Believable Character Change

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Picture by Bensik lmeri

Have you ever met Supermom? You know, the mom who knows everything about being mom of the year and makes you look like you belong at amateur week?

Yeah. I’ve met her too. She is the one who I sweat bullets over becoming like, only to fall miserably on my face.

Face plant. That’s me.

If I were to take apart her journey, she probably didn’t get her Supermom status over night. There had to be some smaller steps along the way. No one can be that amazing instantly.

In fact, I bet she even failed at some time or another. Whew, that makes me feel a bit better.

Real life teaches us that talent and experience blend together to create change or growth in our lives. Our characters should grow the same way if their change is to be believable.

How To Create Believable Character Change:

*Define the clear start and end points. To show our character’s change we must identify where they are starting and ending. Then the midpoints are more easily defined.

*Identify small growth steps between the beginning and end points. People change in baby steps. The person who is terrified of water, won’t all of the sudden be an expert swimmer without first getting in the water and practicing.

*Identify small failures and obstacles that they overcome before complete transformation. If a character is not challenged as they reach for the end result, the reader does not value the change and it will make no impact on their lives as they read.

Example:

Lily struggles to trust anyone to do some of the homework in their group assignments. She can’t afford to get anything less than an “A”.

Here is what I might do to plot the change:

Start point– Lily will not let anyone else take home project work.

Midpoint– Lily lets someone take home project work, but checks it and makes changes before turning it in.

End Point– Lily lets someone else take home project work and trusts them enough to turn it in without checking their work.

Failures/Obstacles- Lily loses points because she did all of the work herself on the first project, Lily discovers she doesn’t know everything- changes something incorrectly on the project, and another one could be that her team mates resent her for taking control.

This is a simple example of how this might work. Think through the progression of how a character changes in your story. Make sure it is a logical progression and has baby steps.

Marlin in Finding Nemo is one of my favorite character change examples.

What is one of your favorite character changes in a book or movie?

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3 Ways Your Story Must Be Like Chili

1339876_43156282There is nothing like a warm bowl of chili on a nippy day to warm you inside out. Reading a good book can have much the same effect.

Have I gone bonkers? Am I on a diet and I just dream food? Nope. Truly, there are 3 Ways Your Story Must Be Like Chili.

Without these three ingredients your story will fall flat and likely not reach publication. If it does make through publication, you may struggle with readers falling in love with your story.

3 Ways Your Story Must Be Like Chili:

*Must Include the required basic ingredient- The Hero’s Journey. Every pot of chili must have the chili spice in it, or it would not be chili. Likewise a story must have a hero’s journey in it or it will not be a full novel.

What is the hero’s journey? It is how the hero/heroine changes from the beginning of the story to the end. It is how they are impacted as an individual by what happens in the story.

For Example:

We see how Nemo and his father are set up for change in the story by the inciting incident. Nemo’s capture sends Marlin on his journey.

Some places you can find out about the hero’s journey are the book How to Write a Brilliant Novel by Susan May Warren, the My Book Therapy Website and also in the book The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.

*It must include fresh ingredients. Whatever you put in your chili can add a richness of flavor, especially if it is fresh. In our novels the same is true. Our ingredients must be fresh, unique, and rich in flavor.

The cast should draw us in with it’s richness. The plot should have unique flare. There should be a twist of surprise. All things we love in chili.

*We must let the story cook with time and thought. Great chili is cooked over a period of hours. A great story is cooked over a space of time that allows us to blend the flavors perfectly, to consider all options, and to draw out the best of the flavors to be predominate.

Taking the time for story ideas to marinate and the best twists and turns in our story to come to mind is essential for uniqueness. When we rush a story, or are not open to adjustments that might strengthen it, we run the risk of having bland chili.

Do you love chili? What are your favorite ingredients to add? (My family skips the green peppers and adds yellow and red peppers. It is more sweet and less acidic.)