I’ve always said that the real keys to a good action movie are its characters. Take away the exploding cars, planes falling from the sky, and the nerve wrecking decision between cutting the red or blue wires, and you must have awesome characters. Or, dynamic characters. But what makes a character dynamic? To answer that question, I’ll start with the dynamic character’s opposite, the static character.
Static characters typically don’t change and evolve over the course of a story. Think about Popeye The Sailor, “I am what I am and that’s what I am.” Popeye loves his girl, fighting Bluto, and eating spinach. Popeye will never go through a mid-life crisis and decided that he and Bluto can be friends. He’s not going to get bored with life on the water and learn to be a pilot. And he will never drop his knock knee sweetheart and hook up with Jessica Rabbit.
Now, if our favorite sailor man was seen racing down the streets of South Beach in a red Lamborghini with a busty twenty-five year old on his lap, then Mr. Popeye becomes dynamic. We’d want to know what happened to Olive Oil? Did she die, or did she catch him cheating and break it off? And why are Popeye and Bluto chilling on the golf course together every Wednesday afternoon? Popeye’s growth and changes now make him a dynamic character.
Keep this in mind when writing your own characters. Static characters are not a bad thing, and stories need them. But if you need dynamic characters in your stories, make sure they have grown and developed by the end of your story. Give them challenges, successes and setbacks., and maybe a different world view than when we met them on the first pages of your story.