Slow & Sudden Change: Character Building

I have been daydreaming, I confess. I love this time of the year. I love that it’s warm enough to enjoy the outdoors and cool enough to not loathe it. I love how the color of the lake changes subtly with the coming of Fall. But more than anything, I love the trees (I know, right? Second verse, same as the first…).

Autumn happens slowly upon us. Day by day, we are surprised with a splotch of red or a brilliance of yellow. Every day is like a new revelation of the big bash that is coming. It’s like reading a book and having one sentence leap out of the page and into your heart. There is something slow and passionate about it.

But then, after weeks (sometimes months) of watching and waiting, Autumn wakes us to the celebration. Every leaf has turned, none have fallen yet, and we find ourselves enveloped in the glow of the Autumn rainbow of leaves. We can barely take it in, this sudden transformation; it blows our minds every time, and we ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the magnificence of the change.

So which are we? Do changes happen slowly or suddenly in our lives? Or, like the Upper Michigan Autumn, is it both?

I’m contemplating this in terms of some new characters I’ve been working with. Three characters (or potentially four, but I’m not committed to the old man yet) share one life-changing event. And while there are immediate effects set into place, I’m also beginning to see that there have been (and continue to be!) splashes of color all along.

And not only from the time of the event forward, but prior to that particular moment. Elements have been in play for some time and the life-changing event simply brought some of them to the surface.

The question being: how do we determine which changes are slow and which are sudden? Ideally, I think the character would tell us herself.

Thoughts?