The development of characters is something that I have always admired in books. It is satisfying to realise that they are changing and overcoming barriers. I like observing how events impact their thoughts and behaviour. In my novel Censure and Liberty, I had to build the story of two teenagers (13-14 years) until they became young adults (20). It was, for sure, the biggest challenge in my book. After all, what on earth changes more than a teenager? Their body, behaviour and mind are in constant evolution. Therefore, this article will approach the topic of how to achieve the growth of the main characters.
How to show the changes of your main character evident throughout your book
Here are some writing strategies useful to develop characters.
Make your character’s weakness and struggles clear!
You cannot simply say that you are character is this and that. From the very beginning, you should show their traits with their words, actions and thoughts during scenes of the book. Often, I set a couple of short scenes that seemed to be irrelevant to the storyline just to make clear that my main character struggles with certain aspects of life. For example, my stubborn and bold is only thirteen and had recently lost his father. In the first chapters of my novel, I built a whole scene where he has to learn how to shave with his uncle. That was a scene that I could take away from the novel, but it served well the purpose of displaying traits of his personality and his struggle with changes in life.
Plan the points of change and impact
Surely, life events play a great role on changing people. Have in mind that meeting new people and some tragedies may force your character to develop. Having these changing points clear in your mind, it will be easier to insert new behaviours from those moments on. My main character, Theresa Parker, moves from England to the USA in order to study at the age of 14. At first, she was an insecure shy girl. However, I was sure that after coming back from a situation of relative independence, she had to be more secure when returning home.
Challenge your characters or make them fail
If you put your characters in a situation in which they have to tackle their fears or have their morals tested, you give them the chance to overcome their struggles. At the same time, when they fail, they may reflect on their mistakes and even regret their ways.
Make your characters face the same situation twice
Set a scene at the beginning and a parallel one at the end part of the book. Same problem, same place or same people. When characters face the same situation and behave differently or better, it is clear to the reader that they have evolved.