Characters Cannot Change

Filed under: criticism, character

Often seen in: general collaborative, comments

OK, so this isn't exactly found in the writing of the collaborative, but more in the comments made about it.

For example, someone might read this in a story:

Simon laughed sarcastically when I said that, obviously thinking I was stupid. 

Then the author of Simon may comment, saying something like "This is wrong, Simon is too good natured."

Now, this is something that annoys me like hell. I am constantly encountering people who are convinced that characters cannot change, ever. 

Maybe Simon was being good natured about his sarcasm. The character who's point of view we were reading from may have just perceived it in the wrong way, as happens quite often in life.

But also, out of personality things do happen sometimes. It's just a fact of life. Sometimes, a really friendly person can say something that seems really mean, and that's it. I've done it loads of times, but people still insist I'm nice. 

Usually, when an author says that something is wrong with what someone else has written about their character is incorrect, they're right. But in cases like this, it may not be that way. 

Also, this normally sparks and argument between the two authors. A bad atmosphere between authors can lead to a not-as-good-as-it-would-be collab that eventually just stops because everyone gets to annoyed to write any more.

Another thing that leads to this is when an author is insistent that their character never ever acts any differently from how they do in the first chapter.

This makes characters seem emotionless and one-dimensional. Everyone has a range of different emotions which make them act differently.

Let's go back to our example, and give it some context.

"You can't just assume I did that!" I yelled, slamming my hands on the table. "You don't even know!"

Simon laughed sarcastically when I said that, obviously thinking I was stupid. 

Some authors do not take into account the situation in which these things happen. In this example, the characters are half way through an argument. In this case, Simon would probably quite annoyed or angry, which would make his actions valid. 

Saying that Simon is too good-natured to do that would not make sense. If he is in the argument, it's safe to say he wouldn't be being exactly nice. Yet some authors would still insist that Simon wouldn't do that. 

An example of bad context for Simon to do this could be:

I grinned and rested my hands on the table. "That doesn't make sense," I told him. "How do you even know that?"

Simon laughed sarcastically when I said that, obviously thinking I was stupid.

Maybe in this situation, if Simon really was a good natured person, his reaction might not make sense, and it is perfectly acceptable to say so.

But next time you think someone has 'written your character wrong', consider the situation, and check again.

The End

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