When you write a “string” in your source code, it gets written directly into the executable because that value needs to be known at compile time (there are tools available to pull software apart and find all the plain text strings in them). When you write
char *a = "This is a string", the location of “This is a string” is in the executable, and the location
a points to, is in the executable. The data in the executable image is read-only.
What you need to do (as the other answers have pointed out) is create that memory in a location that is not read only–on the heap, or in the stack frame. If you declare a local array, then space is made on the stack for each element of that array, and the string literal (which is stored in the executable) is copied to that space in the stack.
char a = "This is a string";
you can also copy that data manually by allocating some memory on the heap, and then using
strcpy() to copy a string literal into that space.
char *a = malloc(256); strcpy(a, "This is a string");
Whenever you allocate space using
malloc() remember to call
free() when you are finished with it (read: memory leak).
Basically, you have to keep track of where your data is. Whenever you write a string in your source, that string is read only (otherwise you would be potentially changing the behavior of the executable–imagine if you wrote
char *a = "hello"; and then changed
'c'. Then somewhere else wrote
printf("hello");. If you were allowed to change the first character of
"hello", and your compiler only stored it once (it should), then
printf("hello"); would output