How much Character Development is necessary?:

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But does character development mean that the character changes for the better? I read a post on that somewhere but I don't know where it is, nevertheless I am not sure if character development means that they change into better people. For example, Bob was a innocent and sweet person but over the course of the series, he changes slowly and surely into a sociopath with little reagrd for others. I admit it is not a complete idea but my point is character may not always mean the characters change for the bttter, sometimes the characters don't even grow past their fatal flaw and it becomes their downfall.

Character development refers to any change, for better or worse.

Say if Bob was a nice guy, and various events have changed him into a bitter cynic. That's character development as much as Bob staring out as a bitter cynic and getting nicer is.

Also, "for the better" may be subjective. Say if Bob lives in a Dystopia, and his newfound cynicism helps him make it. Or if Bob lives in a Sugar Bowl, and his cynicism is worn away to reveal his nice side. Or if he lives in Real Life, and either extreme could be useful.

edited 25th May '11 7:47:27 AM by CrystalGlacia

"Whenever I feel like I know how computers work, I go to class and leave feeling like I'm wearing my pants on my head, eating paste."
27 MajorTom25th May 2011 07:46:41 AM , Relationship Status: Barbecuing
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The point of Character Development is that they develop. It does not mean change for the better. Have that one flaw develop into the character's downfall, explore the ramifications of why Character X was once being racist, do all these things. The point of Character Development is to develop, enrich, explore and possibly change a character from what they were perceived before.

edited 25th May '11 7:47:15 AM by MajorTom

"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
In one story, I have a character who, on the face of it, doesn't seem to change despite being thrown in a situation which should've caused her to change. But she just clings harder and harder to her flawed beliefs. However, she does start looking more and more unhinged during the story, and the seeds have been planted for her to change even more.
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
29 honorius25th May 2011 01:38:53 PM from The Netherlands
If you have a character who remains the same during the story but in the end the reader gets to know something about the character that changes his/her view of this person entirely, does that count as character development?

nvm, I think Tom answered my question

edited 25th May '11 1:39:38 PM by honorius

If any question why we died/
Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
Really, depends on the author and how well it's written. Short stories usually don't have much character development (since, you know, they're short), but there's quite a few that expand on a character by using tricks, like writing over a passage of time and so on. Flipside goes as well, I've seen long novels have a character change very little (which is tricky - a lot of people dislike no character development. See: Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy.)
31 Wolf106625th May 2011 02:55:50 PM from New Zealand , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Typin' strangely
[up][up]That could work well instead of character development. i.e. they don't change as such throughout the story (they "had it in 'em all the time", whatever "it" is that they need to triumph) but the reader learns more about them as the story unfolds (trick is doing it in such a way that it doesn't appear to be a series of Ass Pulls).

You still don't have to make it easy on them, though. A protagonist might be swept away by the tide and have to swim back to shore and you could still show that even for a strong swimmer it was a bloody hard task that tested their endurance to the max and there was a real risk of drowning before (s)he crawls up onto the shore; spent, shivering with cold and exhaustion, spitting up sea water and wondering if (s)he can muster enough strength to crawl to shelter.

Yes, the protagonist was a trained lifeguard and routinely swims miles every day (in calm water) but that doesn't mean they're going to shrug, swim to shore, shake themselves off like a dog and trot down the beach to the cafe district for an espresso.

Hollywood would feel obliged to give the character a morbid fear of water that they must overcome so that it's "more dramatic" and the character comes out of it with new-found confidence (that later helps the character score with the love interest).

If they can throw in the need to rescue a dog or child along the way, all the better.

edited 25th May '11 3:07:05 PM by Wolf1066

Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
32 nrjxll25th May 2011 07:58:24 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up]I really hope you're not advocating the Hollywood way of doing things...
33 Wolf106625th May 2011 11:14:13 PM from New Zealand , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Typin' strangely
[up]Quite the opposite.

I can see the merit in the occasional story around a protagonist that has to overcome serious hurdles to win through but it gets a bit much when any time there's a tricky situation there's a character, purpose-written for that scene, for whom it poses nigh-insurmountable problems - because in Hollyweird, "fatal" is just not fucking dangerous enough.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
To be frank, there are more than a few very popular stories that prove you don't even have to have a plot in the traditional sense.

Words like "theme," or "development," or "plot," or "setting" do have some significance, but the underlying importance lies in creating an engaging place where engaging things happen.

That's a narrative. You tell a story, and someone else listens.

Adding further rules sets the trends for genres and tropes. Nothing wrong with those, of course. It's just that if we're trying to break it down as much as we can, I find the concept of a narrative to be the most functionally simple, myself.

So in the strictest sense, I'd say character development means "character change," and leave more specific phenomenon to more specific words. Then again, I can only hope I'm not being too literal to be taken seriously...
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