Action vs. Reaction

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.

Happy Writing!

About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
This entry was posted in Character Development, Emotional Impact, Plotting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Action vs. Reaction

  1. Good post, Jo. I especially like the way you show the “opposites” interaction.

    I might add that even strong people find themselves reacing rather than being “at cause” in some situations, even though they might not recognize what is happening. They are at cause by choice, by nature, but at effect to much of the world. Traffic lights, accidents, darkness, daylight. Whenever a person has to react to the world or to another person, they are a bit at effect.

    • tsuchigari says:

      Sadly I didn’t have time (or space) to address all of the particulars of strong and weak characters, you make a valid point. No character can be 100% in control of his world, life happens. Neither can they be 100% victims of circumstance.

  2. Pingback: The Weekly Review #4 « My Literary Quest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s