Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The psychology of change: Developing authentic characters

Last month I attended a business conference where I heard a session about the psychology of change as it relates to your business and employees. My hubby is the business end of our marriage so normally I take these opportunities to daydream and/or doodle. However, I noticed early on in the session that the psychology of change has three distinct part. I said to myself, "Self, this sounds like it follows the three part story model and can be applied to story/character development. Instead of daydreaming I pulled out my pen and surprised my husband by taking vigorous and detailed notes. (Sorry honey, I'm not going to run the business. My mind is on writing, as usual.)

So . . . I thought I'd share what I learned about the real life psychology of change and how it can be applied to our characters and help shape our stories.

The 3 parts are broken down into
Part 1: The Beginning is the End
Part 2: Transition
Part 3: Conclusion

Today's post is dedicated solely to Part 1: It deals with A. the change in your characters life, B. how it effects them and how they deal with it.

Part 1 The Beginning is the End:

The beginning of your story starts at a point of change for your character. This "change" is the end of "something" for your character. Even if the change is positive, like becoming more popular, moving into a new house, having a new family member or travel. All change produces stress and a sense of loss. Ask yourself, "How does this change effect my character. What have they lost as a result of this change?"

A: AREA'S WHERE CHARACTERS FEEL A SENSE OF LOSS AT THE ONSET OF CHANGE.
1) Territory: Does their change cause a sense of displacement in their turf or environment. (ie: does the new brother or sister make your character feel out of place in their own home? Do they have to move rooms? etc)

2) Relationships: How does this change in their life effect their relationships? ie: does their newfound popularity or starring role in the school play cause tension with your characters best friend?)

3) Meaning and purpose in life: Has this life-change caused your character's belief system or purpose in life to be thrown off kilter? Have they lost, in anyway, what gave them a reason for being?

4) Control: What has your character no longer have a hold on? money? health? safety? sleep? etc.

5) Future: How has this change caused your character uncertainty regarding their future?

6) Identity: How has this change caused your character to no longer be what they were before?

7) Structure: How does this change uproot your characters old routine?


B. Now that you've determined area's where your character is experiencing loss, ask yourself, "How does my character respond to their loss?
Do they . . . . .
1) try to restore what they lost? Are they trying to get back exactly what was lost? (ie: get back the same boyfriend)
2) try to replace what was lost? Are they wanting to gain back something similar in a new way? (ie: replace the old boyfriend with a new one)
3) try to redesign what was lost? (ie: develop a new plan. Do they really need a boyfriend? If not, what is their new pursuit?
4) relinquish what was lost? Your character gives up on replacing, restoring or redesigning and moves on to something new altogether.

The next post will be about Part 2, the Transition and what helps or hinders your characters transition.

22 comments:

Kelly H-Y said...

You got some great information ... thanks for sharing it! :-)

change your life said...

I agree!!! Straggle is the most important factor for changing the life... If you want to change your life then do straggle... According to me straggle is every thing...

Bish Denham said...

This is some fabulous info. Thanks Christy!

MG Higgins said...

Cool! Great information Cristy. I read your list with my current MC in mind.

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the comments! :0)

Liana said...

cool post can't wait for part two

Kelly Hashway said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing this great information. I'm a huge believer in starting a story where things change for the MC. I know some people like to start before that to set up the story more, but I'm all about action and conflict.

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks for stopping by LIana and Kelly.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I'm so glad you decided to take notes! This is great stuff. Thank you! I'm already looking forward to the next post. ; )

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Cynthia!

Laura Pauling said...

What a great in depth post on characters! Thanks. And thanks for commenting. :)

T.D. McFrost said...

Hi Christy!

You have a lovely blog - so blue and dreamy.

Thanks for stopping by, it's always a pleasure to meet new bloggers and join their fold.

I look forward to seeing you over at Frost Light again.

Much love! :D

Janice D Green said...

I like how you salvaged what could have been a very boring business meeting into positive and useful information for writers. I love your creative mind, Christy!

C.R. Evers said...

Hi Laura! Thanks!

HI T.D.! Glad you like my blue and dreamy blog! :0)

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Janice! :0)

Marisa Hopkins said...

This is great! And haha, I would be dreaming and doodling, too :)

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Marisa! :0)

Rena said...

Love this!

Lydia K said...

This is some great stuff for me to think about with my characters right now. Thanks!

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Rena and Lydia. Glad it's helpful!

Kim Kasch said...

My degree is in psych - love these type of outlines that make us think. . .

C.R. Evers said...

so glad you like it, Kim. I'm interested to see what you think about part 2!