Nancy Kress, in her book Characters, Emotion, & Viewpoint talks about populating your fiction with characters that are interesting and memorable. She categorizes characters as changers or stayers. Changers are defined as characters that are altered significantly by the events of the story. They learn something and may become better off or worse as a result of their evolution. She terms this change the story’s emotional arc. Stayers, on the other hand are defined as characters that do not change. This is not a bad thing, and readers have come to love characters that remain steady as old friends (think Dumbledore, Travis McGee, or super agent 007).
Somewhere along the line, your story arc will interfere with your characters goals. Think about whether this turning point will affect your character or not. Think about how your character’s reaction to the event can be made fresh or memorable. For example, how might a character evolve as a result of finding a leprechauns pot of gold?
· If the character is a Changer, he or she might be affected and changed as follows:
o Change for the good: a miser sees the error of his ways and gives the money to a worthy cause
o Change for the bad: a good man is corrupted by wealth and begins to steal from his friends
o Let’s make it interesting: the gold sticks to him when he touches it and he cannot spend it; he becomes literally weighed down by his gold. Much more memorable and interesting, I think; this kind of problem would change anyone.
· If the character is a Stayer:
o He turns it in to the police and thinks no more of it.
o He gambles the money away at the track.
o Let’s make it interesting: As an archeologist, she’s intrigued by the mythology of the pot; and adds it to her growing collection of mythical items. Certainly a more interesting way to go, yet the character has not changed. The collection could be a target; sounds like a story.
Note that the changer examples all have an emotional hook. This is something you need to think about as you define your players. These are just suggestions from my imagination; your mileage may vary. Examine your own protagonist and supporting players. Spend the time to define & create characters that spark your imagination and can hold your interest (and your readers) over the long haul. Be they changers or stayers, they need to be interesting enough that you want to live in their heads for the next year (or ten, if you’re expecting to write a series).