Creative Writing Character Development
How to Avoid Victim Characters
Fiction thrives on conflict and writers relish putting their characters through as much trauma as possible. Some writers, though, allow their characters to become victims and wallow in the victim mentality of ‘poor me’. In creative writing, character development throughout the story is a crucial skill.
Readers don’t want to hear characters feeling sorry for themselves. A little reflection and temporary loss of confidence is okay, but don’t allow your people to become only reactionary, bouncing from crisis to crises.
Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something
When a character is in crises, she MUST DO something to solve it.
And the consequences of her DOING SOMETHING must be what sets up the next crisis.
With the best of intentions, your character must take control and do the best they can to solve their own problems with the knowledge they have when the crisis occurs.
Where their knowledge is gappy is where their solution will fail and the next crisis will seed and grow.
BUT, your character will learn from it, and the current knowledge gap will be plugged. They’ll move on to solve the following crisis from a new point of strength, but of course that will only result in further complication because they haven’t yet learned enough to get where they need to be.
How Characters Grow
Maybe the knowledge gap stems from their own education. Maybe it’s because agents or forces they don’t yet know exist are working against them. Or maybe they just make really bad decisions based on personality flaws. Whatever, characters grow and change through the course of a story, and by following the crisis/learn pattern you give your readers a credible and believable story to follow.
Eventually your character roots out all the evil forces working against her. She understands her enemy, whether that’s herself or an outside force, and she deals with it once and for all.
She’s grown. She’s learned. She’s now a better, stronger person. Your story ends and your reader is satisfied.
Have you learned any tricks of the trade for avoiding, or spotting and correcting, victim characters? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it.