Types Of Change In Your Screenplay


In the global scheme of the universe, life is based on a transference of energy. Storytelling, which seeks to explain life, is about change. Nothing is ever stagnant, even if the rate of change is slow.

A change can be of state, attitude, belief, physicality or situation.

Main characters typically undergo internal and external changes; often both. The more changes occurring, the more complex the story becomes.

When we discuss character arcs, classical storytelling dictates that characters have to undergo some kind of  transformation.

Be careful to gradually progress the main type of change your main character is undergoing. Even if they appear to have a quantum leap EUREKA moment, your characters experience must logically lead to a change. It can’t just happen.

Some of the main characters changes include:

Internal Character Change

EMOTIONAL

This often refers to a change to their responses to certain people. Characters make decisions to change their lives for the better such as moving on from a death.

INTELLECTUAL

This refers to the attainment of knowledge leading to a lesson being learned.

SPIRITUAL

This refers to a change in attitude or life decisions, such as faith or values.

In stories where main characters don’t undergo significant internal changes, such as those dealing with justice, characters instead become conduits of external change.

Some of they key external changes include:

BEHAVIORAL

This is the most obvious. It occurs when the main character changes their actions; either by doing something new or by stopping a negative behavior.

External Change

ENVIRONMENTAL 

This is usually an improvement of a physical space. It may include reducing pollution or stopping deforestation. The main character hasn’t changed themselves.

SOCIETAL

These tend to be cause based stories such as equal marriage rights, voting rights, poverty and hunger. They are large scale global issues.

COMMUNAL

Community-based changes tend to occur in more localized stories with global implications such as cyber bullying at a school.

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