What is the Realisation-Decision-Action character triad and how does it help you write your characters?
The triad focuses on character development, and while, dialogue and plot are important in helping to conjure up the magic in a story, it is convincing character action that keeps the tale moving. That’s where the realisation-decision-action triad comes in. It is a game-changer for creating memorable and believable characters. Here’s how it works.
At its core, the triad reveals how a character responds to a problem or event in a story. First, the character has a realisation – they identify the problem and gain insight on how to solve it. Then, they make a decision about how to act on that realisation. Finally, they take action.
“The character triad combines a realisation and a decision of how to solve a problem with the action itself, rendering the action authentic and convincing.
Let’s take a look at how this works in one of the greatest TV shows of all time – Breaking Bad. In episode 6 season 3 Walter learns that Hank is close to discovering Walter’s link to Jesse by locating the RV meth lab. Here’s how the triad plays out:
Realisation – Walter realises that Hank is on his trail and is about to uncover his identity.
Decision – Walter decides to have the RV destroyed before Hank can find it and connect it to him.
Action – Walter rushes to Clovis’s lot where the RV is located and decides to have it pulverized in a nearby junkyard.
But of course, it’s never that simple. Jesse learns/realises that Walter is about to destroy the RV and decides to try and prevent this. He rushes to the junkyard, leading Hank, who has been following him, straight to the RV and to Walter.
Unable to get away without being spotted, Walter and Jesse lock themselves inside the RV in a blind panic.
What happens next? You’ll have to watch the episode to find out!
So, there you have it – the realisation-decision-action character triad on a roll!
The function of the character triad is to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the characters’ thoughts, decisions and actions.