I’ve found five more sentiments that can add a layer of personal growth for your sleuth and leave the reader feeling that the book meant something. Sure, the adventure is fun or the mystery is thrilling, but readers love character development because it adds weight to the story. As the old saying goes, a strong plot plus a strong character arc equals a great novel.
There are many examples of character growth out there. These are a few additional ideas I had, especially for an amateur sleuth thrust into the middle of a murder mystery. You can read Number 1 – 5 by clicking here.
6. You’ll never know yourself if you Let others define your dreams and identity for you. Kids who have parents who pushed them into sports or a “family profession” can grow up with all sorts of insecurities and resentment. Marriages with a spouse who has squashed her dreams in order to see her companion succeed can lead to ticking time bomb. This provides a clear character arc, where the Protagonist learns to stand up for what she wants and ultimately strives to achieve it. The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are; the second greatest is being happy with what you find.
7. Holding on to negative friends and family members will corrupt you. People are often held back from pursuing their goals because of the friends and family members around them express negative attitudes. Here, the heroine learns that keeping the company of negative people is a choice, instead of an obligation, and once she frees herself to keep the company of compassion instead of anger, generosity instead of greed, or patience instead of anxiety, she find a whole new world of opportunity awaits.
5. Avoiding change and growth will limit your potential. One of the most basic of personality traits is one resisting change. Whatever the change (be it family, work, or socially) the resistance can create great internal and external conflict. For the character to grow, she must learn to let go of the old to make way for the new. There may be consequences and/or loss with either decision (to change or to not to change) but ultimately the change should lead to new opportunities and success.
8. Settling for less than you deserve will hurt you in the long run. This is always a great place to start with a character — whether she’s settled in her career, marriage, or social status — she must become strong enough to let go of her insecurities and wise enough to recognize and pursue what she truly deserves. The drama comes in when it will take something big to really knock her down lower than she’s ever been before, only to, by the end of the book, stand taller than ever before.
9. Endlessly waiting until tomorrow will never allow you to live, accomplish and move forward. A character with big aspirations and starstruck dreams but is all talk and no action is fairly relatable. We all think we have more time than we do. However something must happen to shift her thinking (a brush with death, the loss of a loved one, a milestone, another character’s success). At that point she must either set out for (and maybe achieve) her goals, or wallow in a list of excuses.
10. The world doesn’t owe you a thing. Many a story starts out with a character who has entitlement issues. Ultimately, this character must learn to take full responsibility for her life. It often comes from the universe knocking her down a peg or two, and she learns empathy for other people and a realistic idea of her place in the universe.