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pcarney
December 12th, 2005, 08:24 AM
Looking at my current WIP, I realize neither of the main characters changes over the course of the story - they simply survive. Now, I'm writing this as an 'adventure' story, and as an introduction to two protags, and the world they live in. However, I've always found that character development is good for a story- that your protag has somehow changed or grown over the course of the tale. Do you think this is necessary? Do you even consider this as you put together stories?

tracyt1800
December 12th, 2005, 08:59 AM
I've always felt like the protaganist must grow, change or learn something during the course of the story. I try to apply it to my short stories as well.

JamesL
December 12th, 2005, 11:49 AM
Character development is hugely important - if characters do not change and develop over the course of the story, you have to question the integrity of the plot.

For example, look at Frodo in Lord of the Rings. At the start of the novel he is a quiet, contented character. Throughout the story however he is pushed both physically and mentally and the character he is at the end of the book is very different to the one he was at the start.

Another example would by Jaime Lannister from A song of Ice and Fire. He changes from an arrogant, powerful figure to a more subdued person who is ill-at-ease with his situation.

The way characters change makes the story seem real, and adds real depth which is crucial to its success.

pcarney
December 12th, 2005, 12:36 PM
Character development is hugely important - if characters do not change and develop over the course of the story, you have to question the integrity of the plot.

Yet, thinking back to the original, Robert E. Howard Conan stories, there was never much of a change there. Conan is the same, vicious bastard at the beginning and end of those stories. His enemies lie dead at his feet, and he listens to the lamentations of the women, but he doesn't really change. And these are thought to be good fantasy stories.
Another classic example is the Fafhred and the Grey Mouser (sp) stories. Several of these are simply adventures, and neither of the characters is drastically altered by the plot...
Of course, now that I think back on these, I realize that the characters (and mine) do change- they are all more experienced and 'wiser' for their troubles. So maybe its a matter of degrees?

On the other hand, I have read stories where the point is that the Characters don't change- that they cling to an old world value or outdated morality, while the world around them has evolved, devolved. Obviously, this doesn't invalidate the power, message or integrity of the plot/story.

Expendable
December 12th, 2005, 12:48 PM
Perhaps the change is in confidence? Many people who wind up in survival situations usually aren't survivallists. Most would think it was impossible to survive. Doing so changes them.

I watched this old movie where an English aristocrat family on a boat trip through the pacific get stranded on an island when their boat sank. None of the family knew anything about survival so the butler takes over, becoming the leader. They all learn to survive, one of the daughters excelling at hunting. Then just before the daughter's about to marry the butler, the royal navy shows up to rescue them. And their leader, seeing the navy ship, puts back on his butler's uniform and takes up his old position.

Later, the father gets with the butler and wants to know what they're going to do. And the butler tells him they have to lie. People won't understand the butler leading them. But the butler also isn't content on being just a butler - and has a fortune in pearls he collected while on the island.

I wish I could remember the name of the movie. It was very good. B&W.

Michael B
December 12th, 2005, 02:38 PM
Character development is hugely important - if characters do not change and develop over the course of the story, you have to question the integrity of the plot.
An alternative option is to transform the reader by changing how they view the character as the story progresses. Not easy but it is possible because I have had it done to me by a number of authors.

BLACK HAMMER
December 12th, 2005, 04:00 PM
How do you start with Character Development? Do you think of his/her history, age, what god they worship. Of course you do. What comes out after that is in your storytelling. Their future.

But you can throw all that out the window when your talking about comic book heros. Their like vampires. Batman still thinks and looks the same as he did in the 50's. I bet he loved getting rid of his Clunky bat phone for a nice little cell.

KatG
December 12th, 2005, 06:59 PM
Actually, Batman's gone through a fair number of incarnations, though the basic principle remains the same. I was pretty amused to see "Batman Begins" and the rejiggering they did.

There're two types of development. Development #1 is how a character grows and changes in response to events and other characters in a story. Development #2 is about how the character is presented in the story, how deeply the inner aspects of the character are explored and revealed, whether inner pov is used or not, how much of the narrative is focused on characterization, and so on -- how the writer develops the characters as opposed to how the characters themselves may develop. So we're talking about #1 mostly, but #2 has some relevency.

How much character development or if any, sort of depends on what you're doing in a story. If the character has a smaller role, that character may be there mostly to serve a purpose and that's all you've got time for -- the character is not going to change during the story, nor is the characterization going to be particularly in-depth.

For main characters, you may be using one as a foil for the protagonist in some way and never giving the inner pov of that foil main character. Such a character, even though they have a major role, may not change in the course of the story. A femme fatale may remain a femme fatale -- it's her effect on the hero that's important. For instance, if anyone saw the latest John Cusack movie, "The Ice Harvest" -- most of the characters in that film do not change in any way, except for Cusack's protagonist. (They die, but they don't change.)

There are also certain types of stories where the author very specifically does not want the character to change or be deeply emotionally impacted by events in the story. A story that has as its main theme the inability of the protagonist to change, such as Chauncey the gardener in "Being There," for instance. A satirical or comic story where the characters are drawn in bold, broad, quick strokes and it's the antics of the plot, rather than redemption or emotional growth in the characters that is important. A story which may be attempting to be surreal, fablistic, cartoonish and have characters largely as symbols, may not need fully-fleshed characters who are going through deep angst.

You might also have an adventure story about several people who deeply care about horrible things in the universe and are very dedicated to their duty or calling, and have an adventure in which they deeply care about horrible things in the adventure and are very dedicated to their duty or calling during the adventure, and so their fundamental nature does not change. But their adventure can still be interesting. Or have a couple of devil-may-care guys who don't take things too seriously and get into trouble and get out of it, and it doesn't really mess up their lives in any particular way. And that can be fun.

So the question is, how much is this bothering you about your characters, and are we still talking about the first draft here, in which case it's too early to worry about it. :)

Expendable
December 12th, 2005, 09:06 PM
Is there anything these characters are learning?
Are there any changes they're going through?
Is there anything challanging their beliefs?

pcarney
December 13th, 2005, 08:33 AM
So the question is, how much is this bothering you about your characters, and are we still talking about the first draft here, in which case it's too early to worry about it. :)

No, it really doesn't bother me, I just thought it would be an interesting discussion point.