“What most interests me is surprise, discovering a capacity for something—tenderness, violence, duplicity, hope—within a character that I didn’t expect to find. For me, this is profoundly different and infinitely more compelling than a character who ‘changes.’ I’m not one of these folks who believe that stories are always about change or that there needs to be a Joycean epiphany three-quarters through a short story. In fact, such rigidness smacks a little of hogwash to me. So often the so-called changes in characters feel manufactured, crowbarred into the plot.
“When the ‘change’ feels beautiful and natural and, to invoke the workshop term, ‘earned,’ I think it’s because the character has confirmed what we’ve hoped or suspected all along. Maybe the character hasn’t changed at all, but rather has finally been put in a situation where her truest self can be revealed.”
—Bret Anthony Johnston (x)