1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    showing character changing

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Tesoro, Feb 29, 2012.

    In my novel I've come to the moment where the relationship between two of my characters is changing, and I want to show that in a natural way, instead of just telling. But do I have to write longer scenes just to squeeze in that tiny bit (or all of them?) or can I write shorter scenes, (less than a page but perhaps in the same chapter) for each change? It's like little details in the ways they treat each other because of how a previous event made them re-evaluate each other but i can't come up with a scene that would include all of them and somehow I think it would feel contrived if I put it all in the same scene. I don't want to go on for too long about it either, just give little examples that show it in action, so to speak.
    How do you handle things like this?
     
  2. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I hope I'm understanding the question. I would add a line here and a line there showing the little changes through out several scenes. If for instances they are falling in love (that's my favorite change) you could put a sentence about their hands touching when he handed her something when they really didn't have to touch or one of them feeling upset or jealous because the other didn't say something to them but realizing that there was no reason they should have, only that they wanted them too or them locking eyes or laughing more when the other is around. But the point is the slip these details in a little bit here and a little bit there so the reader starts to realize there is a change as it's happening and as they (the characters) are realizing there is a change.
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    thank you Amy. And these scenes being really short is not a problem? I mean, if the whole purpose of that scene is showing those small changes, they will become quite short if i don't add a lot of unnecessary content just as filler, which I don't like. can one have a chapter entirely dedicated to such short scenes (I don't know, maybe three or four) without it looking weird, when the rest of the chapters are usually much longer and the scenes too?
     
  4. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    In my experience, no. I find it best to fit them in somewhere else. Else the flow of the plot is interrupted (unless their relationship is the plot, in which case go for a chapter with a few slightly longer scenes if it's manageable). Let's see. Your purpose in these scenes is to show changes. It requires nothing from the reader if you say, "They began holding hands." But if you take the phrase, "She reached out for his hand" (or the other way around) and embed it in a section of spoken dialogue, the reader will gain a slightly different perspective without the shift being jarring or unrealistic. At least that's what I think.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I find that having scene do more than one thing can be very effective - for example, the story is a murder mystery and you are also showing the relationship between two people changing (and I'll assume for a moment that Amy is wrong and that what you are after is a chilling of a previously warm relationship), a scene could show one or both of them discovering something about the murder they (and the reader) didn't know, but then they disagree about its meaning or importance, and refer back to whatever the event was that caused the relationship to begin to unravel ("Ever since you were..." or "This is just like when you..."). Dynamics of relationships don't change in a vacuum; they are driven by other events, and those should be the events in your story.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Hey Tesoro, I think I'm in pretty much the same boat. My two main characters fall in love over the course of three evenings, and then a week apart kinda cements it. The evenings they spend together aren't very eventful, they're just spending time with each other, but there are a few subtle things that act as milestones and indicate little by little their feelings are growing. I am trying to condense them down but it's really hard to just leave in the significant moments but not the filler. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but the following idea might work for you.

    Maybe you could do what I call a 'glossing paragraph', where the narrator fills in a series of details that may have taken place over a long time, but in a very concise way. It's usually employed when the author wants to get from A in the previous chapter to E in the next one, but needs to quickly get across B, C and D.

    Consider paraphrasing the action, like: It was a week later when [synopsis of significant event] that Jane started to see John differently. Over the next few days, she noticed his behaviour towards her changed too, as he [description of scene that demonstrates his feelings]. But the moment of realisation came for them both when [something else even more obvious]. Now, as he walked her to her apartment after work, he automatically reached for her hand and she took it without thinking. Neither of them said a word, and when they reached her place, instead of giving him the usual goodnight peck on the cheek she just smiled. "Want to come up?"

    That sucks, but it's an example of how you can string a series of scenes together, maybe within it's own framing scene.
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading your entire description, I feel it might be unavoidable to acknowledge the change, to "tell" it. Change in a relationship can take up an entire book, there's a wealth of clues, all the stages of grief to go thorugh on both sides (denial, anger, etc. before acceptance) to squeeze that into various scenes purely by showing, I can see what you mean when you say it would feel contrived. That's why it might be appropriate to support a few examples of change with a statement of fact, and perhaps some internalisations by the characters involved, that show their reactions to what happened.
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks Ed, I'll take your advice and get the maximum use of the scenes by blending in other important events too.

    Actually their relationship Is part of the plot, but I'll try to squeeze these into other scenes, and maybe even allow some telling to summarize. Problem is there is actually not much happening between the changing part and the (critical) moment then they have to acknowledge that change and act according to that, but I think I'll be able to write them into other scenes and maybe adding some filler.


    thank you both for the advice and Nakhti for the example given, I'll try to practise them, and even though I'm not a very 'wordy' writer (I hate fillers, and usually my scenes are very dense and only treat the very action that is vital for that scene, but in detail. I'm not one of those who can write a long scene about basically nothing just to sneak in a tiny bit of information or an important thought that the writer thinks is vital. I sometimes wish I would, but that just reads so boring to me and if I get bored what would the reader be?)
    I think maybe some summarizing and plain old telling can be done here without too much damage (I hope).
     

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