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Continuity: Character Development

An important component to a story’s continuity is the development of your main characters. Sometimes a story can get away with just showing a snapshot of a moment in a person’s life. For instance maybe your main character (protagonist) is a part of a particular battle. Because the point of the story is about the battle, there isn’t the need to expand on the characters. However, in most stories, the main point revolves around the main character(s) (protagonist(s)) in it. As such, their development is essential.

When creating the story, it is important to make sure the protagonist changes in some area. The events of the story serve to help them learn something, change their behavior in some aspect or to have a realization or epiphany. They should not be the exact same person they were at the beginning and this change can be positive or negative, depending on your story.

However, it is important to make sure that the change your character makes is realistic. You can’t have a character start out as a total jerk and by the end of a few chapters suddenly be Mother Teresa. The change can even be a small step. Make sure you show the steps they take toward the end result.

It is also important to make sure your protagonist doesn’t do something totally outside of the traits you have established. This will jar your reader back into reality and out of your story because it doesn’t follow what they know. Plus it’s lazy writing. There has to be a reason for everything your character does!

Here are some questions to ask as you develop your characters:

  1. Have you shown the choices the character has made toward their change thus far in your story?

  2. Would the character make this choice based on the description you’ve already written?

  3. Have the events that have happened in the story affected the character and his or her choices?

Character development is often an integral part of your story. Like in real life, the choices we make and the events that happen shape us (and our characters) into who we later become. Happy writing!!

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