Every little thing we do is either an action we have chosen or a reaction to an event or situation. EVERYTHING. When we choose to act we are in control, when we are forced to react we are not. Our characters, much like ourselves, experience a balance of both initiating the action and reacting to events around them.
Strong willed characters are action based, they prefer to call the shots. It is uncharacteristic and uncomfortable for them to be forced into situations where they have lost control. The crux of a story with a ‘strong’ character as the lead would require putting them in a helpless situation where they are forced to learn something or grow as a person.
Weak willed characters react. They have little say in what happens around them. They hate the spotlight and situations where they must make decisions. When one of these characters is the lead in a story the climax revolves around them being forced into action.
Neutral characters do a fair share of both acting and reacting. They are versatile in the telling of the story but often fall into the ‘supporting cast’ roles because it is harder to put them into uncomfortable situations.
When creating a character, or with a character that already exists, decide if they are strong, weak, or neutral. Knowing which way they handle situations can help in crafting a plotline for maximum emotional impact on the character and the reader.