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Dynamic characters

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Oct. 11, 2019

Last week we took a look a static characters and when it might be an appropriate time to use them. But what about dynamic characters? Before we get into the weeds here, let’s first talk about what makes a dynamic character. Dynamic characters are those that develop and change over the course of the story. They have arcs, face and overcome challenges, ultimately becoming a different person in comparison to when they started. With that in mind, when is a good time to use a dynamic character?

When your plot is character driven
A character driven story is one that focuses on the character’s personal development and/or journey. The character’s motivations and psychology are a key aspect of these types of stories and as a result they need to be dynamic. It’s more engaging to watch people change over time so ensuring that your character does will, in turn, make your story more engaging.

If your characters are facing a challenge, they better be changing
When a person is faced with a difficult situation they’re not sure they can handle, they generally come through the other side having learnt something about themselves. The same can be said of characters as well. That doesn’t mean that a character will grow in a positive way. In fact, they may handle it badly. But so long as they are changing, the character will still be interesting to follow.

When your character is the MC
If your character is the main one with the audience will be spending time with, you had better make them engaging to watch. Audiences are more attached to characters who are developing, even worse, because it gives them a reason to watch. How will they pull through? Who will they be by the end of the journey? Will it be good or bad? Whatever the case, a dynamic character gives the audience a reason to be interested and care.

How do you make a character dynamic? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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AmeliaP at 4:16PM, Oct. 15, 2019

Ah, character dynamic. When I read Vagabond, this subject amazed me. It was the point of the whole story in Takehiko Inoue's Vagabond, the character evolution (or regression). I think a dynamic character "saga" is more interesting in long stories than in short ones, because we have enough content to compare the "then" and "now".

ShaRose49 at 11:23AM, Oct. 11, 2019

@banes I agree

Banes at 10:00AM, Oct. 11, 2019

I think the character arc/changing character reaches us on a deep level; there’s a reason that a character with an arc is the usual approach! Not having it can work but it’s a major risk of losing audience interest.

usedbooks at 4:13AM, Oct. 11, 2019

I'm not sure if it's character-driven v. plot driven. Characters can drive a plot without changing (their relationships can chance without themselves changing). It's more a matter of internal v. external conflict. A character might have an internal struggle which requires change. Or they might not. Characters don't need personal turmoil to be interesting. It's pretty standard in YA novels or stories with young protagonists because of that "finding yourself" element. In longer franchises, the characters don't change. They are colorful but not dynamic. They had their journeys already. (Sherlock Holmes, for example, is Doyle's character study. Character studies are fascinating but their traits are basically set in stone.)

ShaRose49 at 4:13AM, Oct. 11, 2019

I respect more plot-driven stories, but I usually prefer character-driven ones any day. (And those are like the only kind of stories ?I know how to write anyways XD). Few things feel as rewarding as getting to see a character grow or change significantly over time. It can even feel like you’ve grown alongside the character sometimes <3

marcorossi at 3:02AM, Oct. 11, 2019

Im my view, charachter change is a "structure" thing, not a "content" thing. The simpliest story structure is something like: 1) A has a problem 2) A tries to solve the problem 3) A finds a way to solve the problem 4) A solves the problem Generally in point (3) our hero realizes something or becomes somehow better, so that the "carachter change" is the way to solve the problem. So in this kind of story carachter change is the main backbone of the story and a part of the structure, altough the specific way A changes is part of the content (and actually the main content) of the story. IMHO, as usual.

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