Monday, April 11, 2011

The Things That Change!!!

Well, over the past week we have talked a lot about static things that don’t change much, but in the beginning we talked about the importance of change. So today we will be looking at the things that do change. Now this of course depends on the person you are talking to and these are my own personal feelings (interesting how I put feelings here and not thoughts what does that say about me?)

I think (and then think here very interesting) one of the main things that changes are behavior. A person’s behavior can change, we see this all around us every day. The behaviorists use the ABC theory to explain why we do things. A = Antecedent, B = Behavior and C = Consequence (very simplified version here much more to it). So looking at this we can see that we can’t really change the Antecedent but we can change our behavior which changes our consequences. So when we are working with clients we look at the antecedents and the behavior that follows and explain the consequence of that behavior. We then look at what would result from different behaviors. This will hopefully help the client see that a different behavior brings about better consequences, and they change.

Another thing that I feel (feel here) can change is perspective. I use guided imagery to help people see past experiences and then work with them to see those experiences through “healthy adult” eyes. By understanding past experiences through the healthy adult perspective they are able to understand why things happened and/or if they should have happened. For example the kid who is running toward the street hears his mom yelling at him. All he thinks is mom is mad… I’m a bad person… You can see where this can go. When we take them through guided imagery the healthy adult sees the scene from the mother’s perspective, who is scared to death that her child is going to get hit and die.

Emotions and feelings can change as well, in my opinion. This is explored through guided imagery as well. It is important to help the client see how and where these feelings are coming from.

Irrational thoughts are also changeable. Cognitive behaviorists employ many different tools to help modify irrational thoughts. Thoughts are confronted and challenged; they are looked at with a different perspective. (So all those who say they can’t write or they are not good enough to get published… I challenge you to think long and hard on this IRRATIONAL thought).

So what does this have to do with character development and knowing your character? It is important that we as writers setup situations that will change the behavior, thoughts, emotions, perspective, and feelings of our characters. It is the letter that is found, the loved one who dies, the sermon that touches the heart, the challenges that bend but do not break the person, and the unconditional personal regard from a person whom we respect.

How do you change? What other things do you believe change?


  1. I love the use of guided imagery to understand things from an alternative perspective. There are so many things that happen to us, that we just assume have bad/negative intentions behind them. I like that we need to look outside ourselves and look at the bigger picture.

  2. Stress and selfishness are what changes my behavior. If we would just make ourselves cool down in our own individual way before reacting that would be nice. It's all up to us. We are in charge of our own reactions. I am not talking about writing. Just me. Thanks for the posts. Merika.

  3. You asked if it is important to have situations that will change the behavior, I think that it all depends on the overall plan of the story. If the point of the story is to show that the character goes from being "A" to "B" than these situations are vital and should occur frequently. If the plan of the story is to bring down the villain and save the world, there will still be change within the characters but it isn't as vital. Not every situation will be for the development of the character but of the goal. These situations are important it just depends on how often they occur.

    Once again, thanks for helping me understand the psychology of my characters.

  4. Yep I totally agree with this. How a character can react to things changes also. During the course of the story, the author will throw certain things at the MC, and as the story progresses, the change that the character has (character development) slowly changes.

  5. Ah, yes, it is important to understand why we behave the way we do, why we have certain thought patterns before we can make changes. For me, change comes by making a conscious decision not to take a particular part, especially when I realise it has the potential to be destructive.

  6. I have always desired to write fiction Josh, have one story about 5 chapters long, but it is continuously in progress. I would like to say that YOU are very inspirational for all of us; myself, PTSD recovered...after 40 years, finally, and Thank God, recovered. You would be a great person to share writing the experience. Have a wonderful day. John

  7. Change is one of the vital ingredients for a novel, as well as conflict. We ourselves are constantly changing the way we feel and perceive our world, and thus characters must do the same.

    Excellent post!

    Ellie Garratt

  8. Thanks for the wonderful comments. i think we can all agree that change is something we all go through and is important depending on the situation our characters go through.

  9. ...without a change of opinion, a change of heart perhaps, or an earth-shattering change of livelihood, it's a struggle to hold a reader's attention long enough to enjoy the story we've sacrificed tears while creating. Even the most subtle shift in one's character may be what's needed to cause the reader to fall for that favorite character. Something simple, something unique...yet unforgettable.

    Great post:)


  10. ANother excellent post. I like how perspective can change. Sometimes we have a secondary character that seems like the need a huge character arc to improve by the end of the novel, but, instead, we grow to see the character in a different light and start to admire their good points.
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

  11. Change really is an important component to life, whether it is good or bad. I think how we react to change is what will really make the difference aswell. It can either make us or break us, we can either become better, or become bitter. Any time I go through something new or different or hard I think about this and it is a nice reminder that I don't want to turn out to be one of those old grochy ladies no one wants to be around :)

  12. I, too, believe emotions and feelings can be very pliable. Looking at the situation through someone else's eyes is a fascinating exercise. Especially when you are telling the story from one person's perspective, versus from an omniscient point of view. I think you are only considered insane when your irrational thought becomes truth and you cannot see the fallibility of it. Having an irrational thought and knowing it is irrational and replacing it with a rational thought is far more sane.


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