How can I show my main character's inner struggles

by Gina


I am currently writing a story about a character whose best friend commits suicide. The character begins to party and drink a lot to hide from her feelings revolving around the loss of her friend. She is very shy and introverted and it is obvious that she is not happy with the choices she is making. I want to show the reader that the character is making these choices because she is avoiding her emotions but I am having trouble doing this effectively. At the end of the story, I want the character to finally realize what she has been doing and learn to deal with the death of her friend in a a healthy way. I would love to get some advice about how to show the character's inner struggles and about how she is making poor choices due to these struggles. Thanks!

Answer: Well... If you are writing in past tense, you have a bit of an advantage in that the story is being told by the main character who knows what's going on (because she has already reflected on her past actions). So she could actually tell the reader why she did these things, or be in the process of assessing them. E.g. "I don't know why I got drunk that night. Maybe I wanted to..."

Another option is to show the character making bad choices and then later on have another character point this out to her -- at which point she might be ready to admit why she did them.

Sometimes characters can focus on a response (her desire to get drunk, take risks) as a way of addressing her feelings (the symptom), and only later realize that the symptom was caused by the real problem, which requires a different solution.

Another technique to consider is to create an impact character who handles problems in a completely different way than the main character does. Observing the impact character and his/her approach can make the main character doubt her own choices. She may wonder if perhaps the other person's approach is better than hers, especially if it seems to get better results. She may even seek the other person's advice.

Often people will stick with a behaviour because it is the only way they know how to cope. Having an example of another person's behaviour can get them to reconsider and perhaps try something new.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero