Character development is probably one of the most important things we as writer’s are responsible for. People aren’t interested in characters in books or television that don’t grow or change (unless it’s a sitcom, of course, where the characters must be frozen in time. In that case it’s the situations and comedy that suck viewers in).

I like to view character development exactly like the Ying Yang symbol:

yingyangYou notice a curved division, not a straight one (because there is no “straight and narrow” path to the end goal–characters change, they compromise, experience loss, gain, regrets, etc. and if it were easy that would be predictable and people don’t necessarily want predictable. I mean, more often than not your main protagonist had better ride off into the sunset, but the path there must be rocky and full of obstacles–just like life.

Also note that within the white there is a little spec of dust, and within the black, a light at the end of the tunnel.

All interesting characters can easily be placed within this black/white model (grey isn’t as fascinating to read about or watch–I consider grey the narrator or the threshold characters must cross).

Good characters have a little darkness within them (perhaps a cross to bear), and the most evil characters may have a little goodness in them (for redemption purposes later, or simply to gain a little sympathy from the readership so when good defeats evil it is bittersweet (a far more complex twist than a happy ending). Read More

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