Every writer of fiction knows the importance of character development, but deciding when and how a character should change can prove difficult on many levels. Every novel writer must ask when it is time for the character to change and if the plot pushes the character enough to give readers a reason to believe a character can transform. Just like the people reading the novel, main and supporting characters shouldn’t change easily. These characters may change their habits, outlooks and appearances, but can the writer give them something strong enough to change the at their core?
Should a Character by Dynamic
Being a dynamic character wouldn’t be so bad, and for some novels, it’s the only way to be. A great hero may not necessarily need to change; sometimes what makes a hero is standing tall and taking what the author can throw at him/her. But if the novel wants to push for emotions beyond actiond, then a character will have to change emotionally.
Giving Characters the Proper Pasts
Why would anyone want to change who they are? A character in a novel is under the same circumstances; there needs to be an underlying cause for a member of the story to change. In most cases the change will come from the plot, but in others, a good background such as upbringing or a tragedy that gets brought into the plot later may be enough to act as a catalyst.
Know when a Character Should Start the Change
Whether the character is a hero or a villain, the change can’t be just a plot point. A dynamic character demands more than simple statements to evoke a powerful change. Writers should let the change be life altering, just as they are in reality. Only when the tension of the plot for the particular character is running at its’ highest moment should a character start their transformation, up until that point everything else is just a character’s personality shining through.
Not All Changes need to be positive
Characters, like people change for the better and for the worst. They need to have solid reasons for their being, and as those reasons change, the characters should change in a way to reflect them. If a character isn’t born a serial killer, then losing a puppy dog at a young age may not be enough to push him/her in that direction. So let the plot drive the character’s personality.
The true difference between using dynamic or static characters comes down to whether the author wants to have the story driving certain characters or the characters driving certain parts of the plot. A good novel can have both, but the writer needs to be respectful of the reader and understand that readers will see through harsh changes in the development of the personalities of characters.