Thursday, March 31, 2011

Part 2, The Psychology of Change: Developing Authentic Characters

I'm tickled pink w/ purple polka dots over the responses of Part 1 of the Psychology of Change. I hope that this 2nd segment will be just as useful.

Part 1 dealt with how your character experiences a sense of loss in their life when change occurs and how your character responds to it. Even good change produces stress and a sense of loss. (ie: a new baby means a sense of identity loss, loss of territory or turf, loss of sleep etc.) Click here to read to Part 1 (Or you can just scroll down. Whatever. Take your pick.)

Part 2 deals with outside influences and how they help or hurt your character as he/she deals with the change and sense of loss in their life.

Part 2
The Transition Phase

When a person makes a transition from an old way of life to something new there are outside influences as well as inner battles that shape how they respond to stress and move on.

Things that help a person move through the Transition Phase of "change"
1) Ceremony: Studies show that people tend to get over the stress of "change' in their life if they go through a ceremony, ritual or right of passage of some sort. ie: funerals help a person transition from dealing with a death and moving on with life. Weddings help people transition from a single life to married life. Journaling is a ritual that helps people sort out feelings. Burning pictures, throwing out items, writing letters (you know . . .that sort of stuff) are other types of rituals, ceremonies or rights of passage.

2) Venting: Transition is the time when a person just needs to vent, not be fixed. They needs someone to listen rather than someone to solve their problems.

3) Allowed to act out of character: This is a period of time where your character my act in ways that they normally wouldn't act.

4) People in transition need . . .
A. A positive reminder of why they are going through this change
B. A reminder of the big picture; what is at the end of the road of this transition
C. A plan of action
D. A role to play in their transition. They need to feel like they have some control by taking part in the events that will lead to their end fate.
E. Care
F. Concern

Now ask yourself . . .

1) What positive and healthy things, listed above, does your character do to help them through their transition? What areas are they lacking? (ie: Do they take part in a ceremony, ritual or right of passage that will help them move on, or do they try to ignore their feelings and end up feeling stuck? )

2) How do other characters help or hurt your character in their transition? Who gives your character the support they need? Who is a negative influence that makes it difficult for your character to make progress? Remember, even friends and loved ones can be a negative influence in your characters progress. It doesn't have to be the antagonist who creates all the tension. Even well-meaning people can flub-it-up for your character.

3) How do relationships change for your character during this time of transition? Does he/she gain or lose friends because of the change itself or your characters reaction to change? Does your character start to see a side of people that he/she has never noticed before?

4) What does your character realize about him/her self that they never realized about themselves before? Do they like themselves better or worse? How do they view themselves differently than before? (ie: do they find out that they have a deep inner strength than the realized or do they end up finding out that they are really more of a whiner when things get tough?)

5) Does your character feel like they have any control over their situation or feels like everything is out of control? Does he/she try to take control or does he/she feel hopeless?

Part 3 of the Psychology of Change is "Conclusion" This is simply where your character has found resolution in their circumstances and the "change" in their life is now the norm. They have found peace and acceptance of their circumstances. The end of the story is a new beginning for your character.

This is the Psychology of Change in a nutshell. I hope it helps you in your character development! I'd love to hear if it's useful.


Bish Denham said...

This is so good Christy! I can't even begin to tell you. And...I think one of the problems we have with some youth is that we don't have those definite rites of passage from childhood to adulthood.

Kelly Hashway said...

There are definitely times when I let my characters vent or act out of character. It's necessary in order for the reader to see them as real people. Great post!

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Bish and Kelly! I agree.

Christina Farley said...

Very, very interesting. I agree. It's so critical that I totally understand what my characters are experiencing and how they are feeling to evoke true emotions! Great post.

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Christina!

Laura Pauling said...

I love the idea of their being a ritual or ceremony to mark the transition. What a great idea!

C.R. Evers said...

THanks Laura! :0)

Angela Ackerman said...

Great post Christy! I think as adults we take change in as a matter of course, but we need to remember that children and teens haven;t had the time and experience to always adapt gracefully (heck I barely manage grace some days, lol!). Understanding the impact of change and how it might manifest helps us really understand our characters.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

C.R. Evers said...

Very true! Thanks for stopping by, Angela!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Wonderful, Christy! This kind of information helps me to keep my characters real. We all go through transitions and have to deal with the accompanying stresses, so our characters should as well. Thank you for this!

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Cynthia! I'm glad it helps!

Solvang Sherrie said...

What a great list of questions! Thanks for this!

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Sherrie! :0)