The only constant is change. It’s ubiquitous because it’s true. The universe even abides by it in a cosmic sense. So if your characters are wandering around in a world that doesn’t change, guess what?
That’s right, they’re existing in a TINY POCKET UNIVERSE OF PURE ENTROPY!
Change The Scenery
Okay, maybe not, unless you really are writing about pocket-verses where Newtonian laws don’t apply (and then–I WANT TO READ THAT). More than likely, though, even if you are writing alternative universes (universii?), your readers are probably aware that the scenery is painted on particle board and propped up with two-by-fours. We are creatures of our environment, to a certain extent, and our environment will affect us as much as we affect it. In a play, the actors carefully avoid the propped-up wooden-painted trees for fear of knocking them over, but you can bet in a real environment, nobody’s afraid to swing from the branches if necessary. Let your characters draw your readers into your story world by interacting with a real, dynamic environment that changes as the characters do, from the events in the story.
Change Your Mind
Characters can be single-minded in their pursuit of goals (and they should have them, even if they haven’t voiced them). But a story where a hero continues to try and fail because he’s trying the same thing will only work if your story is told via Warner Bros Animation Studios and features the comedy stylings of a pair of animated desert critters, and a mail order supply company with a delivery service that uses quantum physics. A hero who fails to approach a persistent problem with new attempts at solution is going to frustrate your reader and make your reader wonder if you as the author are keeping your character deliberately obtuse.
Change Your Undies
Haha, gotcha on that one. I don’t mean literal undies, although sometimes you might wanna check your characters’ wardrobes and make sure if you’ve described their clothing, they really do change it at least once a day unless there’s a reason not to. But here I’m speaking of that time in the story where your characters are going to be faced with the opportunity to Change Their Undies. And by Undies, I mean their internal beliefs about something. Your commitment-phobe needs to have that crisis moment where he faces the hard evidence that commitment is nothing to be afraid of, and either decide that his internal beliefs are stronger than the evidence, or if they really are crumbling. Your characters must have at least one opportunity to change an internal flaw, or simply change direction in one aspect of internal thinking. If that mother is certain that getting on a plane will kill her, would she choose to challenge that belief, that internal certainty, in order to save her children? Will the hero who’s been left at the altar for the third time finally conclude that marriage is no longer for him?
Bottom line is that stories are about Change. Ask yourself “What changes?” while you write and while you craft, because the readers are reading to find out that very thing.