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A good story underlines a strong character and its development

Understanding the Essence: What Is Character Growth in Stories?

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Embarking on a literary or cinematic journey is not just an exploration of plotlines and events; it’s an invitation to witness characters’ profound metamorphosis as they navigate their narratives’ intricate landscapes. At the core of storytelling lies a dynamic and transformative element known as character growth.       

One of the most important aspects of crafting a compelling science fiction story is developing characters that undergo meaningful growth and change throughout the narrative. At the same time, the technological ideas and fantastical settings may wow readers, and the dynamic characters keep them engaged and invested in the story. Effective character growth is critical to creating memorable and resonant science fiction. 

Character growth refers to how characters’ personalities, worldviews, beliefs, and behaviors evolve directly from the experiences, challenges, and conflicts they face in the story. Rather than remaining static or one-dimensional, characters who grow are transformed by events in a  way that feels realistic and true to their nature. They may gain wisdom or insight, overcome personal flaws or weaknesses, see the world from a new perspective, or transform as people in significant ways.

Looking For Inspiration? Here are some examples

This type of growth is expected in characters often thrust into extraordinary circumstances that disrupt their everyday lives and force them to adapt to survive. A clear example is in James Cameron’s film Avatar. The protagonist, Jake Sully, is a paralyzed former marine stranded on the alien moon Pandora. There, he agrees to drive an “avatar” body and infiltrate the native Na’vi people. Jake’s perspectives are challenged and expanded by getting to know their culture and falling in love with one of them, Neytiri. He grows to appreciate the Na’vi way of life and ultimately risks everything to protect their homeland, completely transforming from the self-interested outsider he began as.

In Planet Saviors by Raymond Hunter, Stella is portrayed as a free spirit and daredevil who doesn’t fully conform to her society’s norms. She enjoys taking risks and thrills. She fully developed her curiosity and passion for creativity/imagination on her mission to Earth. By observing human culture through TV, she admires traits like joy, spirit, and the ability to generate happiness. Her time on Earth helps her formulate her mystic beliefs about the importance of these qualities. 

Another example is in Octavia Butler’s novel Dawn, where Lilith Iyapo crash lands on a planet occupied by peaceful, advanced aliens known as the Oankali. Though initially fearful and distrustful of them, she understands their biology and culture over time and cooperates with their plans to use human/Oankali hybrids to help restore the Earth. Her character grows from a scared refugee to a willing collaborator and leader by facing tough decisions and expanding her thinking beyond human-centric views.

what is character growth
A promising novel keeps a reader engaged from the beginning to the end

In these science fiction works and many more, compelling character growth stems from putting protagonists in extreme situations that challenge their identity and beliefs. Through meeting alien cultures, confronting disturbing new technologies, or gaining unexpected abilities, they evolve as people in multi-faceted ways that keep readers engaged in their journey. Whether on a macro or micro level, character growth is one of the hallmarks of richly crafted science fiction storytelling.

Planet Saviors Is the Perfect Blend of Humor and Science Fiction!

In Raymond Hunter’s masterpiece, Stella is a woman from Mund sent to Earth to study human creativity and imagination. She believes Earthlings have something to offer in restoring passion and spirituality to her culture, which has stagnated after pursuing genetic engineering to create a perfect utopia.

Grab your copy to find out more about Stella’s journey.

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