May 21, 2010

Character Growth

by Joan Sowards

My minivan has a dent in the back door. My son, checking to see if the door had closed, hit it with his hip. It closed, but he left a dent—a big one. At the advice of friends, I bought a brand new toilet plunger. With the help of a little petroleum jelly and persistence, I popped that concaved metal out—so proud of my self-sufficiency.

As weeks went by, that darned dent managed to appear again as deep as ever.

So how do I tie this into writing, you ask? This whole dent incident reminds me of a novel I read about a man who made a bad decision. The story portrayed all the unfortunate events that followed his action. While involved in the story, I hoped and believed that the man would learn his lesson and change, but at the end, and just like that dent, the man made the same choice again. He hadn’t changed at all. I wasn't happy with the ending, so I gave the book three out of five stars.

Character growth makes a satisfying ending. Dorian Scott Cole stated, "In a story, the character must change, and should do so gradually from scene one to the ending scene."

I need to buy a plunger again.


  1. Thank you for this. I had not recognized that character development, preferably improvement, is the satisfying ending to a well written story - a well written blog post - or a life.

  2. I love your analogy Joan. I get so annoyed when the main character is as clueless at the end as he/she is at the beginning of the book. I feel like I wasted my time. Great post!

  3. Very good point. This is why we read a book, right? To take that journey of growth with the MC?

    Thanks for being my writing buddy today!

  4. Wonder if the author of the other story was trying to make a point that we don't/won't/can't change...sobering thought.


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