Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Inner Journey

Do your characters make a transition throughout your story or do they stay static or the same? A really good way to follow your character's inner journey is to start at the beginning. Well, duh, you say, that's obvious! But I'm going to give you seven pointers that will help you follow that inner journey.

  1. Start by writing of you character's initial condition. What are his/her emotions? Define their starting place.
  2. Decide what problem your character has. What will they have to face in their moment of truth. Fear of death? Is he/she afraid of water?
  3. Examine your character's initial condition. How is your character expressing themself as the story begins. What problem is evident at the get go?
  4. Next, look at the event that sends your character on their journey. What event causes your character to see her problem. For example; she is put in a rowboat, on a lake, and she has a terrible fear of water. (Lousy example, but you can use your own!)
  5. Now see what happens in the story to escalate the situation. Does the oars drop out of the boat which has started leaking? Will your character want to go back to their original situation (be on land?) or will the be stripped of all ability to go back?
  6. Now look at the moment of truth. Your character will be given a choice to either move on or stay the same. How they behave in the external shows how they react to this moment of truth. They have to make a decision. Will they sit in the leaky boat and scream? Or will they swim for it?
  7. Examine how your character is at the end of their journey, or their final state. It could be that the fear our character experienced is now four times worse than it was, or it could be the exact opposite. Does your story have a happy ending? Bitter? Maybe she drowned in the lake. How is your character affected by their choices?
So you can see, a emotional journey was made by your character, an inner journey, that was followed by outside events. You can make this happen for your character in scenes, chapters or for a whole story. In any case, your character will have depth and the reader will be able to follow your character's journey.


  1. Love this example. (And actually, in the book I'm currently writing, one of my characters IS afraid of water--for very good reason, so this kind of made me giggle.)

    I love seeing character journeys. I often write future scenes so that I know about where the character needs to be at that point in the book--figuring out how to get the character from the point where they start to the point where they end is incredibly tricky sometimes, but I love the process.

  2. Laura: How interesting that your current MS has a character that is afraid of water. I just pulled that example out of the air, for no particular reason.

    It's good to get those characters set aside for future stories and get them developed ahead of time (I think).

  3. Hi, Karen. I'm stopping by to check out your blog and to say hello. I'm also participating in the A to Z challenge. I'm looking forward to seeing what you blog about in April.


  4. Thank you Susanne! I'm looking forward to the A to Z challenge and am already gearing up for it!


  5. Hello Karen! Inner journies are so important for our characters. I think the emotional journies they undertake help define them so much and form the core of our stories. After all, if a character hasn't changed and learned from thier conflicts at the end of the story, what've they been doing the whole time? ^^ ;)