What Is A Dynamic Character?

A character is a vessel the writer chooses for the readers to experience their story through. A dynamic character is a character that changes as the plot progresses (read more on climax and character development here). Most importantly, when a character changes throughout the plot it needs to be believable for that character.

In other words, your character must have believable motivations to make them change in order for the reader to care at all about the outcome of the story (learn about setting a story goal).

 

But How Do I Make A Dynamic Character Believable?

There are many different ways to write a character. Styles, tenses and other elements come to play when discussing point-of-view and characterization. But for the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on how to create a dynamic character using a specific writing activity.

Let’s leave the writing jargon behind for now. This activity will focus on developing character personality traits, dialogue, quirks, and backstory. Any great dynamic character is believable. Believable means they could potentially exist in the world; they are deep and complex enough to do so.

 

Let’s start with the activity parameters – get your pen & paper ready:

Activity – Put Your Character In A Room

This room has no windows and no exits. It is unfurnished. It has white walls and a white floor. Essentially it is a box and you’ve just written your character into it magically.

Now answer these questions using a free-writing technique. Turn your brain off (there is no logic here), and image the following:

  1. How does your character react to the room? Do they seem concerned/amused? Are they trying to find a way out by physically searching the space, or are they contemplating how they got there? Do they start looking inward, thinking about certain things?
  2. What do they think about in the room? When they realize there is no exit, do they panic? What sort of memories are pulled from their past? Do they begin to show any physical signs of nervousness (ie. playing with buttons on their clothing, biting their nails, etc)?
  3. Introduce external factors to the room. How do they react? Imagine how your character might react to outside stimuli by slowly introducing objects like a chair or a picture frame. Try not introducing other characters just yet. Does your character inspect the items? Does your character touch it, ignore it, use it?
  4. Introduce another character to the room. How does your first character react? This is tricky because you don’t want to get too distracted by your second character. Pay close attention to how your first character responds to the other. Do they treat them like an intruder or are they happy to see another person? What do your characters talk about? Does the first character show the second around the space (become dominant in the situation)? Or does he/she rely on the other character to come up with a way of escape? Does anything personal come up? A pet peeve that is more pronounced in a small space? Really dig your teeth in on this one.
  5. Finally, change the setting. Instead of a white room with nothing in it, play around with putting them in different situations and settings. For instance, put your character in the middle of a busy shopping center with screaming children, or on a plane next to a nervous flyer. This can even be a scene from your story – but remember to keep free of any logical implications. There’s a good chance only parts of this activity will make it into your actual novel.

Take your time with these steps and really dig into them. You’ll find that your character will take on more human quirks and traits, some of which you didn’t even consider. These small details make a character believable.

Most of all, just have fun with it. Characters have a mind of their own and will develop in the best ways possible. A story is most fulfilled when it is chalk-full of deep, dynamic characters.

 

Do you need help with your novel? Comment below or send me an email, and let’s take a crack at it together.

What Is A Dynamic Character?

A character is a vessel the writer chooses for the readers to experience their story through. A dynamic character is a character that changes as the plot progresses (read more on climax and character development here). Most importantly, when a character changes throughout the plot it needs to be believable for that character.

In other words, your character must have believable motivations to make them change in order for the reader to care at all about the outcome of the story (learn about setting a story goal).

But How Do I Make A Dynamic Character Believable?

There are many different ways to write a character. Styles, tenses and other elements come to play when discussing point-of-view and characterization. But for the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on how to create a dynamic character using a specific writing activity.

Let’s leave the writing jargon behind for now. This activity will focus on developing character personality traits, dialogue, quirks, and backstory. Any great dynamic character is believable. Believable means they could potentially exist in the world; they are deep and complex enough to do so.

Let’s start with the activity parameters – get your pen & paper ready:

Activity – Put Your Character In A Room

This room has no windows and no exits. It is unfurnished. It has white walls and a white floor. Essentially it is a box and you’ve just written your character into it magically.

Now answer these questions using a free-writing technique. Turn your brain off (there is no logic here), and image the following:

  1. How does your character react to the room? Do they seem concerned/amused? Are they trying to find a way out by physically searching the space, or are they contemplating how they got there? Do they start looking inward, thinking about certain things?
  2. What do they think about in the room? When they realize there is no exit, do they panic? What sort of memories are pulled from their past? Do they begin to show any physical signs of nervousness (ie. playing with buttons on their clothing, biting their nails, etc)?
  3. Introduce external factors to the room. How do they react? Imagine how your character might react to outside stimuli by slowly introducing objects like a chair or a picture frame. Try not introducing other characters just yet. Does your character inspect the items? Does your character touch it, ignore it, use it?
  4. Introduce another character to the room. How does your first character react? This is tricky because you don’t want to get too distracted by your second character. Pay close attention to how your first character responds to the other. Do they treat them like an intruder or are they happy to see another person? What do your characters talk about? Does the first character show the second around the space (become dominant in the situation)? Or does he/she rely on the other character to come up with a way of escape? Does anything personal come up? A pet peeve that is more pronounced in a small space? Really dig your teeth in on this one.
  5. Finally, change the setting. Instead of a white room with nothing in it, play around with putting them in different situations and settings. For instance, put your character in the middle of a busy shopping center with screaming children, or on a plane next to a nervous flyer. This can even be a scene from your story – but remember to keep free of any logical implications. There’s a good chance only parts of this activity will make it into your actual novel.

Take your time with these steps and really dig into them. You’ll find that your character will take on more human quirks and traits, some of which you didn’t even consider. These small details make a character believable.

Most of all, just have fun with it. Characters have a mind of their own and will develop in the best ways possible. A story is most fulfilled when it is chalk-full of deep, dynamic characters.

Do you need help with your novel? Comment below or send me an email, and let’s take a crack at it together.

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