Unspoken Goals

I just read a timely article about character development, Jeanne Veillette Bowerman’s “Balls of Steel: Therapy for Your Characters” in scriptmag.  I like how she says your charcters should be making different choices at the end than in the opening scenes.  She dares us to push our characters, calling on our own wounds to guide us.

My book club was discussing Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder last night, and several of us were left feeling a bit cheated.  We discussed character development and how the protagonist’s choices at the end didn’t seem to mesh with the set-up of her personality.  I think we failed to see the growth and change that should have definitely evolved after all the protagonist endured.

I believe Jeanne is correct that the meaning of the story is lost to the reader/ viewer if the characters aren’t pushed to make the difficult choices.  And I would venture to say it is not only the choices for the physical goals that count, but also the choices made for the underlying emotional goals.  We feel satisfied at the end when those unspoken goals are achieved.

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