A great story is when characters come to life, and they do this by driving the story of their own volition, against the author’s will.
I’ve read books that taught character development. The general idea is to present a challenge to the character. This is good. But hardly do readers want a good story. They want a great story.
My main character, Desi, started as flat as an amateur author creates: She does this, says this, and this happens. I feel her story was driven by someone else. That person was me. I wrote that she was involved in one event after the other and what she had to say about it.
Over the past year, Desi has taken a life on her own. She matured beyond my control. I cannot force her to do as I will.
The story of The Quest Logs was originally written to follow plot. The fate of our heroes intertwined. As I’ve matured so has the story. The greatest indicator is Desi’s character developed in that even I have to second guess if what she decides or says is what she would do or say.
The moment Desi breathed of her own will I felt was a separate being. I knew I have matured as an author. I accomplished what it takes to craft a compelling tale. I compare it, somewhat, to parenthood, when your child leaves the nest and is an adult, capable of caring for their needs. Even better, when they set and accomplish goals. Granted, I’m no parent, and the feeling is likely far stronger of a real child.
I recently rewrote a scene in which Desi finds an item that is useful in her path. The original had some light humor, but was far too soft for the world she entered. It was not unpredictable; in fact, it was predictable as the next political biography.
I was disappointed in myself. With my improved comedy writing I rewrote that scene as an exciting, shocking, event, to reveal the dangerous world she is in.