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Change is weird.

We all go through change. Sometimes it’s big change, like alterations in health or financial trouble. Sometimes it’s little things, like finding gray in one’s hair, or discovering a new admiration for raspberries.

The thing about change is this: we can’t control or prevent it, but we are entirely in control of how we respond.

(Yes, I’m bringing this around to fiction, don’t worry.)

Personally, I have experienced a lot of changed in the past few years. All of us have. My latest change has just completed: I’ve moved.

It happens. No big deal, right?

We left behind the house where my aunt passed. Where I finally started writing again. Where my husband and I experienced months of joblessness, followed by discoveries of talents we didn’t know we had.

And now, that time is over – and we’re on to something new.

The big takeaway is this: things change, and how you choose to respond affects your experience directly. Click To Tweet

Applying it to Fiction

One of the biggest challenges to writing fiction is character arc. The character must be in a different place – internally if not externally – than they were at the beginning.

That different place gives your reader the reason to read. If the character remains utterly unchanged by the end, the story is unsatisfying. It leaves us wanting more, feeling as though we’ve only gone in a circle.

One step to an effective arc is not just to get your character up in a tree and throw rocks at them; it’s also to figure out just how that tree/rock scenario affects your character.

How do they choose to react?

Anger? Fear? Determination?

Do they choose to just wait it out? To try to run or hide? To find a way to strike back?

And over time, does that response change?

That choice shows your reader more about your character than pages of “telling.”

Next time you write a character facing change, consider their decision. Consider how they choose to react, and you’ll find your written arc takes a glorious step toward being more interesting.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.