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.

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