If characters had nothing to struggle against, they would stay the same. They wouldn’t transform and grow and arc. A character changes because she is either in conflict against another person, or herself or the world. In Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees, Silvia, the protagonist is in conflict with her father, Frank, the antagonist. It is mostly through Frank, that she learns that in order to achieve peace in her family, she needs to do whatever it takes. Her growth and transformation come from this lesson, or through the resolution of the conflict with her father. Frank is at the heart of her challenge in bringing her family together as he embodies the conflict and strife that resides within each family member. Just when Silvia thinks that the family reunion will be a success and that her father is finished fighting with his family, he storms through the door raging. This forces her to work harder to resolve her family conflict, and with this work comes growth and change.
In my second book, Discovery of an Eagle, Cosmo, the protagonist, is in conflict against himself. As he awakens inside, he struggles against a part of himself that wants to keep him asleep. As he continues on his journey of self renewal, he is continually pulled back by the old part of himself. It is through the resolution of this struggle with himself that he grows and arcs as a character.
Real life is not much different. I’m always feeling in some sort of conflict against myself, other people or the world. If I continue to fight, I get nowhere. It’s tempting to fight because it can feel easier than coming to some sort of resolution. When I do work for some sort of resolution, I grow and transform as a person. Fiction is, after all, a mirror of real life.