How to Write a Bildungsroman
- Come up with a specific change that you think is particularly important in the transformation from child to adult. Maybe it’s from childish arrogance to mature humility; or maybe it’s from cowardice into courage, or dependence on parents into self-reliance. Whatever you choose, it has to be somehow related to psychological or moral development – it can’t just be that adults are taller and hairier than children. In addition, it should be a positive change, since the bildungsroman is usually a hopeful story about growth.
Then take the following steps in whatever order you like:
- Create a child character and an adult character. Show the difference between the two characters using key details – what are the specific attributes that define the adult character and make her different from the child?
- Decide on a shaping experience that might have helped transform the child into the adult. The specifics here will depend somewhat on genre: in a fantasy story, it might be an epic quest or adventure; in historical fiction it might be an experience of war, famine, or revolution; and so on. The experience has to involve some sort of conflict in order to make for a powerful story.
When to Use Bildungsroman
The bildungsroman is a type of literature, so it belongs to creative writing rather than formal essays. It’s a great way to structure a novel, play, or film. Be aware, though, that a bildungsroman is a complex story that has to unfold over a significant length of time so that the reader can see the gradual character development. If you’re trying to come up with an idea for a two-page micro-story or something like that, a bildungsroman probably isn’t your best bet. So, make sure you have plenty of time to write it!