Student Question

How would you write a transformation story that includes a realistic problem, a human transforming into an object, and reactions to the transformed object?

1) Begin with a realistic situation: a person with a problem

2) Sudden transformation of a person into object (not an animal) with description of the process

3) Attempt to think/ function (human consciousness persists even after the transformation)

4) One or more people react to or use the object

Expert Answers

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In planning your transformation narrative, I would recommend beginning with the main character. Question lists can help flesh out aspects of the character, such as his or her physical characteristics, background, family, interests, and desires. I recommend the character questionnaires from Gotham Writers Workshop ( Make sure to give your character flaws because a perfect character is a boring character, but be careful not to make your character so flawed that he or she is unlikable. A successful story almost always depends on a likable protagonist. Otherwise, the reader will not care or be invested in what happens to the character.

Once you have a strong idea of who your character is, you can plan what object you want your character to become. Alternately, if you already have an idea of the object, you may want to start your planning there. Your character’s traits may develop around the object you choose. Either way, you will likely want to connect aspects of your character to the object he or she transforms into. For instance, a woman with a “prickly” personality who can’t get close to people could transform into a cactus. A narcissistic man could turn into a mirror, doomed to never really be seen by those who look at him. In these examples, the characters’ flaws are revealed by the object they become. If you choose this strategy, your transformation story could become a story of redemption. Through the character’s literal, physical transformation, aspects of their personality could also transform.

Your character’s transformation should be tied to his or her initial problem or conflict. The story’s plot development should bring the character to a point of revelation or understanding, leading to the resolution of the conflict. To return to our former examples, maybe the woman who turns into a cactus realizes the importance of human contact and intimacy. For the man who becomes a mirror, perhaps he experiences the joy of appreciating other people, rather than always seeking their approval. In some ways, every story is a transformation story. I hope you have fun writing yours!

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