How to Develop a Character
Question: First of all, thanks for all the help this site has been giving me, it's the best one I've seen! I'm having a small problem in my book. As I said in my previous question, I'm writing a rather depressing tale about a post-apocalyptic era. The thing is, the protagonist is a kind, nice man in the beginning, and I want him to gradually become more uncaring and a sadder person. How can I make this transition smoothly and in a realistic way? Thanks a lot in advance!
Change, as it is often said, happens slowly at first and then all at once.
You have to think about main character's throughline as a series of events.
In act one, you want one or more events where the character makes choices that show his kind nature.
In act two, show how he is having a harder time. Maybe have an event in which making the nice choice doesn't work out so well. Let him see your impact character seeming to get better results by making selfish choices.
In act three, in his most desperate hour, the main character will have his personal crisis--the moment when he must either change or remain steadfast.
Finally, it sounds as though the story will end with him having changed (become more selfish) but ending up less happy. We call this a Judgement of Bad. He changed, but regrets it. This needs to be illustrated as well.
In the events of acts two and three, while the pressure is building, you are free to have your main character waver between the two approaches for a time. Or you could have him stick to his guns until his crisis, when everything hinges on his choice. At that moment, he could lose courage, give into the pressure, and change.
The key is to see the process as a series of choices (actions or decisions) and how the results of each choice affects the next.
Best of luck.