Dynamic (Changing) Characters

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Flexibility is an important part of roleplay. You need to be able to adapt to twists, new players/partners, and think on your feet - er, fingers.

This extends not just into trying new genres and characters, but into the characters themselves!

If a character stays the same through the entire RP, they can start coming off predictable and stale. Your character in the beginning is probably great! You love them, you want to explore and show off everything about them, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. But~, if you want your character to read like a real person instead of a cardboard cutout, they need to change a bit. Consider the following:

  • A Dynamic character is almost always considered way better than a flat (unchanging, one-dimensional) one. A character who is Dynamic is a character who changes over the course of the story; they learn a lesson, curb a bad habit, conquer inner demons, change their views, or alter their style.

  • A story is, broken down very basically, setting up a character, giving them a problem, and then watching them go through the journey of solving it. 'problems' don't even have to extend beyond this character; realising they have trouble controlling their temper is just as much a problem as a dragon terrorizing the village.

  • Real people have struggles and problems that they need to overcome all the time; characters who reflect this struggle are relatable, and reading them overcome their troubles gives us hope for our own.

Having your character change a bit over the course of the story doesn't have to destroy the essence of that character; in fact (barring exceptions such as a villain who switches teams), it shouldn't! And they don't all have to be huge or angsty struggles, either. Here's some examples of what kinds of problems could be the catalyst for character development

  • The character is put through a situation which causes them to recognize the importance of family, and must reconnect with their estranged relative
  • The character realises they have a problem with compromising what they want and ending up dissatisfied, and resolves to stand up for their desires more.
  • The character needs to learn to be more clean/organized as their current sloppiness is putting people off
  • The character realises their trust issues are keeping them from making connections, and starts trying to get over them
  • The character's old style of doing something does not work for a current problem, they must adapt their strategies
  • A character becomes jealous of another character, and must resolve their feelings of envy and inferiority
  • A character's skills/powers are irrelevant in the current situation, they must find another source of confidence and self-esteem.
A character will probably not succeed in overcoming their problem on the first try. It's far more realistic and interesting if they struggle to deal with it. For example, a character who loses their temper quickly may not realise what they've said/done was harsh or too aggressive until after it's happened, or until someone calls them out on it, which people are unlikely to do in most cultures. Humanity has weird inhibitions about going up to jerks and saying "Hey, you're being a jerk right now!" probably because people don't like to be told these kinds of things about themselves, either, and often react harshly/defensively.

So go forth and develop your characters! Watching a character learn and grow is a wonderful thing, and really adds flavour to the story. It also helps people become more invested in your character if they recognize there's a struggle going on and want to see the character succeed.
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