Musings on Character Growth


I was reading a discussion about the ABC show “Nashville.” Yes, I love that show, it’s soapy, it’s ridiculous, and it’s great, but that’s not the point. It got me thinking about character growth.

If you’ve never seen it, Hayden Panettiere plays a young, ambitious country singer named Juliette Barnes (are you hooked yet? You should be). Without giving away too many details, and to keep this spoiler-free, her character has a lot of issues and hurdles, many she placed herself.

But have they changed her? Should they have changed her? One thing that I’ve enjoyed about the writing of this show is that deeds, like in life, are never without consequence. Juliette has had plenty of consequences. Are they shaping her?

I think they have. and I think that her character arc isn’t a form of “fallback” writing, when the writers grasp for the tried-and-true when they don’t know where to go. I think it’s much more realistic.

She just hasn’t become an entirely different person overnight.

When people change, it’s a gradual process, a slow process. In writing our characters, we tend to accelerate it, given we don’t, usually, have lifetimes to tell our stories, nor readers willing to spend lifetimes reading it.

Change is good. The speed of change, though is entirely up to the characters who have to grow.



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