cabbage test

Can Your Characters pass the Cabbage Test?

Picture a room. The walls are bare sheet metal. The floor is blank and rubbery, and the ceiling is just out of reach. There’s a light source somewhere, but you’re not entirely sure where. In the centre of the room is a red button on the floor. There is nothing else present. What do you do?

If you pushed the button, (or did anything other than sit around and mope), then congratulations. You have done more that a head of cabbage placed in the same situation. I can’t claim credit for the metaphor, as that belongs to a friend of mine, but it is an important one to consider.

Characters need to be active; they need to do things, even if those things end up having negative consequences. If they sit around waiting for the plot to happen to them, then you might as well replace them with a head of cabbage. They’re boring, passive, and their victories feel hollow because they haven’t done enough to achieve them. Having characters saved by outside forces feels less satisfying that when they save themselves. ┬áThis is a particular problem for female characters, (see my post on the Passive Princess), but every character should be looking at their situation and doing more to solve it than the average root vegetable.