Writing fiction is a lot of fun — you’re telling yourself a story. However, when you’re writing a novel, think about how your characters will change during the course of your novel.
You characters will change with every scene. Indeed, that’s what a “scene” is, a unit of change.
If you read books on fiction theory, you’ve heard about the story arc, and the “character arc”.
Veronica Sicoe’s excellent article examines three kinds of character arc, starting with:
The Change Arc – this is our good old “hero’s journey”, which basically has the protagonist change from an unlikely fellow into a savior and hero. This transformation is quite radical, and despite some inner strength that was “always within him”, pretty much all else about the protagonist changes drastically by the end of the story.
Your lead characters must change during the course of your novel and you need to keep track of those changes. The easiest way is to create a running outline for each primary character. List how he feels at the beginning of each scene, and how he feels at the end.
Unlike real life, your characters need to have a reason to act and feel as they do:
- You might quit your job just because you feel like it. Your character must have a reason to quit.
- You may feel depressed, even though everything in your life is fine. Your characters need motivation to be depressed, and you must reveal their motivation.
Tip: your readers identify with your characters; with your lead character, most of all. That identification happens because you reveal your characters’ thoughts, and this leads to your readers emotions becoming engaged.
Keep a Running Outline of Scenes
Some writers plot and outline their entire novel before they start writing. Other writers might plot a scene or two ahead. Yet others are “pantsers” – they write by the seat of their pants and never outline.
I tend to outline after I’ve written 10,000 words of a novel. Once I know who my story people are, I can outline.
You can use outlines, or not. However, I urge you to keep a running outline of scenes as you write. Make a note of how your characters feel at the end of a scene, and why. As mentioned, this helps you to develop your plot. It also helps you to create characters who are easy for your readers to identify with, because they change as your book progresses.
Check out our current special offerings
1. Hot Plots: Craft Hot-Selling Fiction in 5 Minutes (or less)
Writing fiction? Take advantage of our wonderful Hot Plots offering. It takes the mystery out of plotting, and writing fiction.
2. Story Power: Write and Sell Short Fiction — Short Stories, Serials, and Series
If you’d love to write fiction, but writing a novel seems a little intimidating, why not write short stories? Story Power: Write and Sell Short Fiction gets you up and running. You’ll soon be a short story maestro.
If you've ever dreaded writing, or felt that writing was too hard, you'll love the Easy-Write Process.
The Easy-Write Process changed my life; I developed it over several years of struggling with writing. When I taught the Easy-Write process to my writing students, they achieved great results too. Please enjoy the Easy-Write Process -- I wish you much success with it.More info →
Do you find writing a struggle?
I work with writing students every day who believe that they “can’t write.” And yet, they must write, for one reason or another.More info →
Resources to build your writing career
Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.
Update: April 11, 2018
Latest posts by Angela Booth (see all)
- Book Marketing On Pinterest: 3 Fun Tips You Can Use Today - January 17, 2019
- Book Marketing On Twitter: 3 Tips You Can Use Today - January 7, 2019
- Make Plotting Fiction Easier: 3 Ideas For Settings And Moods - January 4, 2019