I prepared this post while deep into my NaNoWriMo novel. I'm writing by the seat of my pants, going forward, not glancing back. I have a vague idea about where it'll end and I already wrote several chapters for the second half of the book.
But this post has give me a breather and allowed me step back and examine my characters. Maybe the ideas will be useful to you in your writing.
Do characters always change for the better?
Do they mature?
Must they change? In many plot driven novels they don't.
Do they change and then go right back to where they started?
I haven't been writing with an eye for character change, but it's happening anyway. I'm simply moving the story forward. When I know my characters, I can go back and modify their dialogue and mannerisms and all that.
My female protag is growing a backbone, but my male protag isn't changing all that much. He's learning to be self sufficient in a practical way, but he isn't making psychological leaps.
One supporting character went mad in an Ophelia-like way (cool, I just thought of that connection), another became a zombie, but more importantly, before that, he became more self sacrificing and mature.
I'm still stuck on the fourth supporting character and he's making it impossible to get my story where I want it. He's too capable and good. It's not that I don't want to kill him off (he must be eliminated), but it must be logical.
So, there you go. If you're a semi-panster, sorta-kinda mapping out your characters' changes when you are maybe 20k into the novel might be useful. I was just trying to write a blog post and this ten minute exercise has cleared up some things for me. :)
Now, off to kill a character...