Development & Growth

03/31/2011 at 9:44 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Not all that long ago, my critique group ripped apart…I mean gave some nice, helpful suggestions for chapters 7 and 8 of my novel.  The main suggestion that I took away from the whole thing was that my main character should have undergone more character growth and development by that point.  So I went home afterwards, shed a few tears over the fact that my novel is not perfect, YET, then I sat down and started thinking about character growth in other stories I’ve read and loved, and how I should show it in my novel.

One of the books I’ve read that I feel has some good character development is “Alanna: the First Adventure” by Tamora Pierce.  In this book, Alanna has to develop confidence in her abilities as a warrior, and face off with the bully who torments her throughout most of the beginning of it.  A little later in the book, she has to face her fear of her own magic in order to save a friend.

It doesn’t sound too complicated until I start thinking about how I should do something similar in my novel.  Also, on a side note, if you have not read the Alanna series (“Lioness Quartet”) you are really missing out.  I loved those books along with her “Wild Magic” books as I know I’ve mentioned before.

Now for character growth in my book, I would say that the biggest fault that my main character has is her inability to get close to people and develop real relationships.  Sure she gets along with everyone all right, but there’s no one she would actually call a friend.  So, I guess the easiest way to show growth is maybe have her admit to having developing feelings for the guy she works for.

Another option would be to give her some sort of fear or weakness to overcome towards the beginning of my novel, but I’m not sure I really want to go and do that since I like my main character the way she is and that may take a whole lot more reworking than is probably necessary.  I might take another look at my beginning later to see what faults she has to work with though, but I do think having her develop a real relationship with someone would be the way to go.  Has anyone else run into this problem while working on their novels too?

Just a quick side note to all my potential readers, I did not actually cry after my critique…ninja assassins don’t cry.  And another note, my critique group is really great, and I appreciate all the help and advise they have given me.


  1. Ally said,

    I’ve not read your novel but I was thinking it may be worth telling or showing ur ready why she struggles to make relationships (i.e. Trust, confidence, etc). Then, maybe her interest in the guy drives her to do something about it (I.e. Buy a new wardrobe, trust him with something small like a secret). Perhaps it doesn’t need to be as obvious as ‘i have a problem’. Maybe the way the guy is subtlety resolves her inner conflict.

    My MCs growth is a coming of age as she is a teenager adjusting to her body (just to make things more dramatic, she then discovers she’s a mermaid). She also feels a failure and builds confidence when she finds she’s good at swimming… Ooo I’m gonna post my blurb to my blog later.

    BTW really like ur other post too. Gonna look at amending my name too. Thanks

  2. Kati Bartkowski's storysketches said,

    Thank you for the good advice, and I’ll see how I can work it in. It’s in the chapter right after this character growth section when people find out why my character doesn’t have any real relationships.

    I was curious on what your story was about because of its great title, but being a mermaid coming of age novel makes perfect sense and sounds like it will be a really fun story to read.

  3. brickcommajason said,

    Katy, this is a great beginning of a blog. Keep it coming.

  4. Kati Bartkowski's storysketches said,

    Thank you! I only hope that it gets better and helps me with my writing overall.

  5. Diana Douglas said,

    I know where you’re coming from. It took awhile before I was comfortable giving my main characters flaws. Now, I probably give them too many. I don’t know your storyline but your character’s inability to get close to others could come from something that happened in her childhood. Maybe with her parents. Or she could have lost someone she loved and doesn’t want to risk becoming emotionally involved with anyone else. Her internal conflict could also make the external conflict more difficult to resolve.
    You had asked me about the tips we got in Toning Up a Sagging Middle. One thing they really stress was don’t be afraid to cut. If you really love something you’ve written, but it doesn’t quite work, save it in another folder and you may find a place to use it later on. Also, sometimes if you go back and change one little thing, everything else fall into place. I did that just last week and it worked! I was very happy. Your blog is great. Good luck with your writing.
    Good Luck!

    • Kati Bartkowski's storysketches said,

      Thank you Diana. Taking a scene out must be hard, even if you know that you can use it in a later story, but I guess in the end you do have to make sacrifices for the good of the overall story. Thank you, again for the good advice. It is because my character lost someone she loved that she doesn’t want to get close to anyone anymore.

  6. juanvillagrana said,

    For someone who’s just started started up their blog, yours is off to a flying start!
    I’m constantly worried about the development of my MC. I’m always berating myself for not making her believable enough or for developing her at a much-too-slow pace. A good example of believable, fast-paced character development I can think of is WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr. Or PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White.
    Developing my MC is going to be a MAJOR major focus in my third draft, since draft two is a little on the lagging side and there are a ton of spots I need to shiny up before I can even think about querying it.

    • Kati Bartkowski's storysketches said,

      I’ve hear a lot of good things about WICKED LOVELY and PARANORMALCY. I’ll have to check them out later and see if they can help me with my character growth.

      I sometimes feel that it doesn’t matter how many drafts I do, I will always find stuff I can change in my novel. It’s kind of like a drawing like that. But thank you, and good luck with your character growth!

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