Monday, March 28, 2011

Why do people change?

Why people change is a great place to start in getting to know our characters. It is important to understand why people change so we can make a realistic story in which our characters change. There are actually quite a few theories out there on why we change. My personal feeling about change, in a nutshell, is that we change when things are too hard to stay how we are. In other words, when it takes more energy to stay how we are than it does to change, we change.
This seems simple and it is but the hard part is when the person doesn't realize the amount of energy they are using to stay the same. Think about those who stay in their addictions. They use extreme amounts of energy to stay how they are. They have to worry about going to jail, their next fix, their loved ones no longer wanting to be around them, and on and on, yet they stay the same. It seems that it would be easier to give up the drugs and addiction so that things would be easier, less energy. So as we work with helping others and more importantly ourselves we must first realize that change is necessary.
So, how does this apply to our characters? Remember, change is resisted by people and that includes our characters. They are not going to up and change just for the fun of it. They need something that will push them to the point that it takes more energy to stay the same than it does to change. We as writers must understand our characters limits, their breaking points that send them too far and the point that pushes them to change.


  1. This is an interesting idea, yet very valid point. It reminds me of a humanities class I took last year, it was all about "the heroic journey" and how the character has to go through certian phases to complete the journey, and if they can't get through these certian points- their breaking point, then they've failed, where on the flip side, if they can get through this phase of their life, their "journey," then they have changed, and become better, never to return to the person they used to be. It was really fun to explore different characters in movies and books about how they all changed and made their own little journeys :)

  2. I agree with you...most people's change is accompanied by a lot of kicking and screaming. I think that we're basically just over-sized toddlers...down to thinking we know exactly what's best for us and when. Not that **I** need to change. ;-) Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a bowl of cocoa puffs...because I haven't **technically** been diagnosed with gestational diabetes...yet...

  3. Nice way of summing it up. Our characters have to be more realistic than people actually are. It helps if we remember what motivates and influences us so we can keep it real in the stories. I hate characters that change because of the situation and not because of their personality. Thanks for the info.

  4. Yes we are just toddlers no matter how much we "grow up" maybe thats the point we never really grow up just face the same problems over and over in a different situation. The Journeys we take can be compared to the hero's journey and by knowing ourselves better we can make it through the problems we face.
    In Orson Scott Cards book he discusses the importance of knowing our characters better than we could possibly understand anyone.
    Thanks for the feedback everyone!


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