I'm at a point in my story where the main character(M17) was in a huge car crash. He'd been in an overturned vehicle for about 10 minutes and had sustained heavy damage. A few of his friends had come to his aid. At first, I had made a character(F18) break down after someone else(F17) who is overprotective of the MC put the blame of the accident on her.

The one who had pinned the blame is traditionally a level-headed, rational person who tends to think things through.

The one who had the blame wrongly pinned on her has a very relaxed, upbeat, and cheerful personality, and tends to display a lack of lady-like manners.

When I reread the sections

her eyes started to water as she was hit by an overwhelming sense of guilt


she turned and walked out of the room, Alexander called after her, but she didn't answer as she didn't want to feel any worse, much less cry in front of them.

it just didn't feel right with the type of person she is.

I had a whole scene centered around her being upset and yelling and everything, and now it feels like I should change it out, but then the whole scene would have to get changed as well and I'm not sure how to do that.

So my question is: How do I make a character with a certain personality react in a certain situation?

  • 1
    I'm voting to close because this is a "what should I write" type of question (as DWKraus pointed out). Sorry. To get it reopened, I would recommend broadening your question to something more general. – Nai54 Mar 25 at 21:57

Suffering is Drama (and transformation):

Unfortunately, I think this might fall into the "Asking what to write" category of questions. Answering "what should I do?" isn't something we can say. So I'll try to address this in a general way, keeping away from specifics.

If you are asking more generally about how humans behave in high-stress situations, the answer is generally unpredictable and can fit the needs of your story. A sensible person being crazy, or a cheerful person being bleak and dark can reveal hidden sides to characters and create depth in a unique way. You can have a person return to "normal" after a traumatic event, but hint that they and others have discovered new things about themselves and others. A generous and kind person who finds they have behaved selfishly may atone and seek to be better, or they may indulge themselves as they realize they are a person with needs too. A coward who crawls into a burning car to save a friend might have newfound confidence or the respect of others. They may exhibit post-traumatic stress or be more contemplative. The logic of their worlds is broken, and they must find out how to deal with the new reality. A sensible person might drink, or a cheerful person might become promiscuous.

Teens are an ideal platform for such character transformations since teens are transforming anyway. Adults are just as likely to deal with trauma but tend to internalize more and attempt to get back to their stable lives.

Ask yourself what is the focus and goals I have with the story. Do I want it to be about people falsely accusing others of things they did themselves? About people denying their own actions to themselves? About self-doubt?

Whatever you want the story to be about, make the characters respond in a way that reinforces the goals of the story. You control who the characters are, and how they react. A trauma might move them out of who they are long enough for your story, and then you can move them back with further events. Or perhaps they are no longer the people they were when the story started.

  • @Kev M Thanks for picking my answer, but for future reference, site etiquette is to wait at least 24 hours before picking an answer as accepted to allow people from around the world a chance to give answers. Someone else may have an even better answer, and not want to give it because the answer is already accepted. – DWKraus Mar 26 at 0:23

Characters may change in some situations

As already said, it depends a lot on the situation and what you want to go through. But a very important thing to be aware of is: the character is two people, the person he appears to be, and the person he really is. This applies to everyone. It is in moments like this, in moments of pressure, that the characters show who they really are because they cannot disguise themselves in these situations.

An idea of mine would be that you try to create several different situations for this scene, then choose the one that you thought was best.

  • delt4d, no worries that you don't speak English. Your answer was almost perfect in terms of grammar and it seemed like it was written by a writer fluent in English. – Nai54 Mar 25 at 22:28
  • My eyes are blessed to have been granted the opportunity to read this. – Levente Apr 29 at 4:22

The reader doesn't know what the character's personality is like until the character does, says, feels, or thinks something. After the character does, says, feels, or thinks enough things, the reader may have a fairly complete idea of their character.

But neighter the writer nor the reader will have a totally complete knowledge of the personality of the fictional character, for the same reasons that neighter the writer nor the reader can have a totally complete knowledge of their own character.

Since you are not infinitley old, you have not been in an infinite number of situations and have not reacted to an infinite number of situations and to all conceiveable situations. Thus you do not know how you would react in a specific situation you have never been in, though you can hope that you could make a fairly accurate prediction.

And chance factors may determine how a character reacts in a new and rare situation. A writer can make the character react without any hesitation, or make them seem seem very undicided until the last possible moment. Thus the writer has some control over how much or how little the character's actions in a certain situation seem inevitable or random choices to the reader.

So if a character reacts unexpectedly in an unusual situation, the writer can make it seem like the character would inevitably react that way - for beter or for worse - in such a situation, or the writer can make it seem like there was a rather low probability that the character would act like they did.

  • Except for if a (main) character is made to act too "randomly", that contributes to two things: a.) the readers would have a hard time associating with the character, leaving them confused and feeling a shallow emptiness where the excited sympathy should reside b.) the entire story could collapse into a lack of credibility – Levente Apr 29 at 4:14

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