The Character Evolution Files, No. 12: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 10 – The Emergence (Resolution)

Emergence banner

Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we conclude our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 12, which focuses on the Emergence (or the Resolution).

Today we reach the end of our journey through a positive character arc. And while some writers prefer to end a story immediately after the Moment of Truth / Climax (Stage 9), doing so doesn’t always give readers the sense of closure they desire. Nor does it allow the protagonist to show final proof that she’s fully committed to the truth that undermined her false belief. That’s where the final stage of character evolution, the Emergence (a.k.a. the Resolution), comes in.

So, let’s give the Emergence its time to shine in Character Evolution File No. 12. We’ll learn how it reflects the protagonist’s changed self compared to the Trigger / Inciting Incident (Stage 1) and the Comfort Zone / Act I (Stage 2), and discover why it’s more abstract in some ways that other arc stages. We’ll also check in with our example characters one last time to see how they’ve begun to live according to their truth.

Don’t forget that you can download the Story Structure & Character Arc Alignment Chart from the Worksheets for Writers page, so you can see how each arc stage corresponds to the three-act story structure.

Emergence Chart greyed

The Basics of the Emergence

The Emergence begins when the Moment of Truth ends, covering the last 5% of the story. This stage offers a sense of completion while tying up any loose ends and hinting at what lies ahead for the protagonist, either in future stories or in the reader’s imagination. It also gives readers a chance to calm down after the Moment of Truth and say “good-bye” (or, in some cases, “see you soon”) to the characters they’ve bonded with.

Plot-wise, the Emergence shows the immediate results and/or consequences of the Moment of Truth. From a character evolution standpoint, it offers further evidence that the protagonist has changed, as well as a glimpse into her new life now that she has let go of her false belief. In a way, you’re establishing her new comfort zone, one that shows her beginning to live confidently with her truth instead of rejecting it as she did in the Trigger or fighting it as she was during her Comfort Zone.

Keeping these contrasts in mind can help you decide what evolved behaviors to show during the Emergence. What actions would demonstrate the protagonist’s new truth? How are her behavior and beliefs now opposite from those of her old self in the Trigger or Comfort Zone? Don’t feel obligated to cram in as many examples as possible. The previous two stages, the Aftermath / Act III, First Half (Stage 8) and the Moment of Truth, had also shown signs of the character’s growth. Therefore, select the most appropriate and salient actions that fit the Emergence’s tone and the remaining timetable.

Since the Emergence is usually the shortest stage, it also contains the fewest elements. Some are optional, but can be serve your story well if the circumstances are right. Regardless, these basics should be considered along with any evolved behaviors discussed above:

  1. (OPTIONAL) New View(s) on Old False Belief: The protagonist may share her changed opinion on the false belief she has shed. She may either verbalize it during an appropriate conversation, or internalize it as a thought or observation for the reader’s benefit.
  2. (OPTIONAL) Return to “Home”: If the protagonist left home or her physical comfort zone during this story, the Emergence may be a good time to send her back. This will depend on the story’s circumstances:
    • If the protagonist is able to return “home,” have her feelings about the place changed since the last time she was there? How about her feelings toward other characters or objects / items of significance in that setting? Do any supporting characters comment on the changes they observe in her?
    • If a return “home” isn’t feasible, ensure the reasons for not showing it or skipping it altogether make sense. For example, does the physical comfort zone no longer exist? Is the protagonist too far from “home” distance-wise to include her return in the story’s remaining timeline?
  3. Remnants of the Old Self: Even though the protagonist has changed, some aspects of her old self will remain the same. Which traits or strengths (or weaknesses) does she still possess?
  4. Parting Image: This marks the protagonist’s final scene in the story. How would you like readers to remember her? What type of scene, behavior, or dialogue would reflect this?
  5. Emotional State: What thoughts or emotions does the protagonist experience during her Parting Image? This will largely hinge on the type of ending you chose during the Moment of Truth:
    • Happy Ending: The protagonist will most likely experience positive emotions (elation, relief, pride, etc.) over the story’s outcome and her growth as a person.
    • Change of Heart: Any positive emotions or thoughts might be tempered by the compromised goal that the protagonist has achieved. She might regret or be sad over part of the outcome, but she might also be grateful for the good that also arose from it.

Crafting a positive character arc (or any character arc, for that matter) takes time, patience, and care. But if you do all that and plan the arc properly, you’ll increase the story’s potential to rivet, move, and satisfy your readers (and yourself). So, consider the Emergence as your time to seal the deal. Use this stage to illustrate the point behind your story from both plot and character perspectives. The right choices now and in previous arc stages will give your your audience reason to believe the story was worth their time, and why they should love and remember the protagonist forever.

For more information on the Emergence / Resolution, check out these posts at Fiction University, Mythic Scribes, and Helping Writers Become Authors.

How the Emergence Shows How Much the Protagonist Has Evolved Since the Trigger (Inciting Incident)

During File No. 11, our case-study character (a female criminal on the run) reached her Moment of Truth when she surrendered willingly to the police in exchange for her (innocent) benefactor’s freedom. Now, during her Emergence, we visit the former fugitive one last time in her new “comfort zone” and see her continued commitment to the truth (“I can trust others”).

Let’s first consider how the Moment of Truth’s outcome will influence the events of the Emergence:

  1. The Moment of Truth took the Change of Heart route, where the fugitive didn’t reach her original story goal (avoiding police capture / arrest) but switched to another goal (rescuing her benefactor) that mattered more to her at that time
  2. Because of the Change of Heart route, the protagonist will experience both positive and negative emotions regarding her outcome.
  3. The fugitive’s Emergence needs to show final proof of the fugitive’s new truth.

Because our case study has focused solely on the fugitive’s arc, let’s save any discussion about remaining plot threads for Aragorn’s and Tris’s upcoming sections and focus on the evolved behaviors that the fugitive might demonstrate. Here are some possibilities:

  1. The fugitive cooperates with the police and chooses not to fight extradition back to her hometown, thus showing her desire to take responsibility for her crimes.
  2. The fugitive and her benefactor meet for the last time, under the police’s watch. She thanks him for everything he’s done for her and apologizes for “dragging you into my mess.” These are actions she wouldn’t have taken earlier in the story, and they illustrate how much the fugitive values her friendship with her benefactor.
  3. During this conversation, the benefactor (who we previously established as the fugitive’s mirror character) accepts her apology. He also promises to visit her while she’s in jail and thanks her for teaching him to be more trusting of others, since he had revealed in past arc stages that he too had trust issues. These aren’t evolved behaviors for the fugitive, but the impact she’s had on her benefactor shows in his behavioral changes and offers further proof of the fugitive’s growth.
  4. As the story ends, the fugitive experiences conflicting emotions about her upcoming incarceration. She’s frightened of being isolated from the world and the people she now longs to reconnect with. At the same time, she realizes “jail time isn’t permanent” and she’ll have a chance to rebuild her life afterwards with the help of loved ones. For someone who used to refuse assistance or close relationships, she has come a long ways.

Using these evolved behaviors, we can flesh out the rest of the fugitive’s Emergence basics: 

  • Contrast to the Trigger: The fugitive’s mentality has changed immensely since her Trigger. Back then, she was terrified of being caught by police. Now, she has surrendered to the authorities willingly. She’s afraid of what lies ahead (jail time, isolation from society), but she has accepted the need to face this fear head-on.
  • Contrast to the Comfort Zone: During her Comfort Zone, the fugitive was defensive or violent toward people (including loved ones) because of her trust issues. Today, she understands the importance of trust and has demonstrated that understanding in previous arc stages by listening to advice, accepting help, and acting in a calmer, more rational manner. This continues during the Emergence, as shown in her evolved behaviors.
  • New “Comfort Zone”: The fugitive’s new life is confined to police custody, with jail as her next destination. It’s not a comfortable “comfort zone,” but it will be her world for the foreseeable future.
  • New Views on Old False Belief: The fugitive shares her changed opinion about trust and relationships either with her benefactor via dialogue or with readers via internal thoughts.
  • Return to “Home”: Because the fugitive isn’t fighting extradition, she’ll return to the setting where her Trigger occurred (“home”). This may happen during the final chapter or after the story ends. Regardless, the fugitive will likely see her “home” and its inhabitants from a new perspective after everything she’s been through. Other characters who knew her before might also notice how much she’s changed.
  • Remnants of the Old Self: The fugitive might still be wary of new people who enter her life, especially once she’s in jail. She might also continue to be a “people-watcher” and to-the-point in her speech and questions. However, she now knows how to determine a person’s trustworthiness, and is more mature and less volatile than she was before.
  • Parting Image: One possibility is the fugitive being led down a hallway by the police. She might be handcuffed, but she stands tall and relaxed, and never struggles with her escort. Her eyes are focused on the path ahead, implying that she’s looking toward her future, not behind for her past.
  • Emotional State: Evolved Behavior #4 above sheds some insight on the fugitive’s closing thoughts and feelings. She may be scared or nervous as she heads for jail, but she’s still confident that she’s doing the right thing and knows her life isn’t over.

Wow. How much has the fugitive grown since we met her in File No. 4? She’s the same person in some ways, but her experience through the story has taught her the errors of her false belief (“I can’t trust anyone”) and the need to embrace the opposite perspective so she can become a better version of herself. All of this was accomplished through thoughtful, careful planning with the help of each arc stage’s questionnaire, from the Trigger to this one.

It’s possible that we could have achieved the same results without this degree of planning. However, understanding how to structure your protagonist’s arc can help you determine where the story needs to go and amaze you with how comprehensively the Emergence can wrap things up.

How Does the Emergence Align with the Resolution?

Let’s look at how the Emergence aligns with a story’s resolution:

  • Both occur after the climax and are comprised of the story’s final scenes.
  • Both resolve any remaining subplots or “loose ends.”
  • Both hint at what the protagonist might do now that the main conflict has ended.
  • Both highlight the major themes / “the point” of the story.
  • Both leave the reader with a sense of closure and an appropriate tone or emtion that fits the overall story.

An Example of a Character’s Emergence Using Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Aragorn and Arwen

As we finish Aragorn’s journey through the positive arc, we’ll refer to the Emergence basics we discussed earlier to illuminate how they play out in a story. Also, please note that these Aragorn sections will reference both the books and Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. The focus will be on film-Aragorn, who endures a more noticeable internal struggle than book-Aragorn, but the discussion will include appropriate references to the books as needed.

Aragorn’s Moment of Truth saw him embracing his destiny as as leader in speech, action, and intention. Now, as his arc and The Lord of the Rings come to a close, we see him beginning to live his new truth and be crowned King of Gondor.

The coronation scene from The Return of the King is easily one of the highlights of the film trilogy. For Aragorn personally, this moment shows him fulfilling his destiny and stepping into his new role in life. As you watch the following clip, compare his behavior (and physical appearance) to that of his Ranger persona from his Trigger (see File No. 3). Also, notice how Aragorn’s interactions with friends and allies have changed in some cases and less so in others. Even though he’s a king, he still regards characters such as Legolas, the Hobbits, and Arwen as he had before: with humility and deep respect.

This balance of Aragorn’s old and new selves is what makes him a true example of character evolution. His journey as part of the Fellowship of the Ring has made him more confident, ambitious, and courageous. Yet at his heart, Aragorn is still humble, just, and keenly aware of his responsibilities. He has changed, but still recognizable. In other words, he has evolved into a more well-rounded version of himself, and in a way that makes sense given the story’s external plot.

While Tolkien shows other events as part of Aragorn’s Emergence in the Return of the King book, the end result is the same: Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and marries Arwen. His friends quickly notice the changes in him, but also the aspects that are still the Aragorn they met in Bree (“… they knew him, changed as he was, so high and glad of face, kingly, lord of Men, dark-haired with eyes of grey” [249*]). His attitude toward his friends hasn’t changed, either. Instead of placing the crown on his head, Aragorn asks Gandalf and Frodo to do so, symbolizing his admiration for the people who helped make his “inheritance” possible (265*).

Before we bid Aragorn farewell, let’s break down his Emergence using the basics we discussed earlier:

  1. Timing: Aragorn’s Emergence covers the final 28 minutes of The Return of the King (95 to 100%, or 5% of the film trilogy), and the final 97 pages of the Return of the King book* (92 to 100%, or 8% of the book trilogy).
  2. Remaining Plot Threads: The resolution of The Lord of the Rings lasts beyond Aragorn’s coronation, showing the Hobbits’ return home and Frodo’s ultimate fate. However, several of Aragorn’s plot threads are tied off during his coronation, from his ascent to the throne of Gondor to his reunion with Arwen.
  3. Evolved Behaviors: Aragorn’s transformation is both psychological and physical. He speaks with eloquence and conviction, wears a chainmail-and-armor suit instead of dark ranger leathers, and appears more comfortable in the public eye and being in charge than he was before. His brief speech from 1:10 to 1:25 also implies that Aragorn is looking ahead and planning for his kingdom’s future.
  4. Contrast to the Trigger: At the time of his Trigger, Aragorn was content with keeping a low profile and protecting the innocent. His rangerhood was his way of evading his family legacy in Gondor. Now, not only has Aragorn helped destroy Sauron and The One Ring, but he has also willingly ascended to the throne of Gondor, and looks and behaves more like a king than a ranger.
  5. Contrast to the Comfort Zone: Aragorn’s Comfort Zone showed him as fearful of being a poor leader and making his ancestors’ mistakes. His journey through the trilogy tested that fear, forcing him to realize his potential and deal with his failures. Thus, as The Return of the King closes, Aragorn knows that leadership is more about courage, good intentions, and perseverance – qualities he has always possessed, and now make him feel more sure of himself as he steps into his new role.
  6. New “Comfort Zone”: Aragorn now resides in Minas Tirith, where he will govern Gondor and live with his soon-to-be wife Arwen.
  7. New Views on Old False Belief: This isn’t present in Aragorn’s Emergence. Nor is it necessary, because of the other changes we seen in Aragorn that prove his evolution as a character.
  8. Return to “Home”Aragorn never returns to the Shire, where he had been a ranger. However, his coronation marks the return of the kingship and Isildur’s royal house to Gondor. Thus, Aragorn’s journey has brought him to his ancestors’ home and a realm he’s always felt connected with.
  9. Remnants of the Old Self: Aragorn retains a number of his old self’s better qualities, including intelligence, honor, and responsibility. He demonstrates all of these during his Emergence.
  10. Parting Image: Aragorn’s final act is a bow to his Hobbit companions. We can assume this isn’t typical of a king. Yet Aragorn didn’t inherit his kingdom; he won it back with help, including the bravery of four little Hobbits. Thus, Aragorn’s public acknowledgment of the Hobbits’ efforts shows his appreciation of his friends as well as his belief that the rest of the Middle-Earth should thank them, too.
  11. Emotional State: Notice the deep, nervous breath that Aragorn takes at 0:56. The list of emotions doesn’t end there, though. He exhibits calm and hope while addressing his subjects, amazement and love when he sees Arwen is alive, and gratitude toward Frodo and the other Hobbits.

A Second Example of a Character’s Emergence Using Tris Prior from Veronica Roth’s Divergent

Tris_Resolution_1

Tris’s Emergence is her shortest arc stage, occurring during the last 6 pages of Divergent (timing = 98 to 100%, lasting for 2%**). She and Tobias had previously stopped what was left of the Dauntless-Erudite ambush on Abnegation and stolen the technology driving that attack. Now it’s time for Tris to show further proof of her commitment to her truth (“I am strong” / “I am where I belong”) and find the unsteady ground that will become her new comfort zone for the next book, Insurgent.

After Tris and Tobias end the attack, they escape Dauntless’s headquarters with Peter (who was previously established as one of Tris’s antagonistic forces), Tris’s brother Caleb, and Tobias’s father Marcus. As they climb hide away on a train bound for Amity, the only faction outside the city’s limits and their best option for a hiding place, the following moments demonstrate Tris living according to her new truth:

  1. Tris hugs Caleb and tells him that their father is dead. Interestingly enough, Caleb replies, “Well… he would have wanted it that way.” (482**)
  2. Tris confronts Marcus about abusing Tobias in the past. Her threat to Marcus is clear: “The only reason I haven’t shot you yet is because he’s the one who should get to do it… Stay away from him or I’ll decide I no longer care.” (483**)
  3. Tris tells Tobias about her parents’ deaths. The thoughts she reveals to readers show that the loss hasn’t sunk in yet, and the fact that they died for her feels “important.” (485**)
  4. When Tobias asks Tris why she didn’t shoot him while he was under the experimental serum, Tris answers, “I couldn’t do that… It would have been like shooting myself.” (486**)

While Tris has clearly found a new internal strength, she’s still dealing with negative emotions caused by her Moment of Truth. She wonders whether her Dauntless friends Tori and Christina have survived, and doubts she’ll be able to hide the fact that she killed Will (Christina’s boyfriend) from Christina. (484-485**) She also knows she won’t feel safe as long as she’s with Peter and Marcus (484**), and notices the greedy way that Marcus watches her hold the simulation data drive (487**). Even the information she carries with her isn’t safe from the people around her, which explains why she keeps it close as the scene ends.

The above observations might not seem like much at first. However, they tick off all of the checkboxes for our list of Emergence basics and provide important insights into the end of Tris’s arc:

  • Remaining Plot Threads: Most of Divergent‘s subplots are resolved during this stage. The threads left hanging are the fates of Tris, Tobias, and the other fugitives as they flee for Amity; whether Dauntless and Erudite will pursue those characters; and any conflicts that might arise over the simulation data drive. All of these subplots could potentially carry over into and be resolved during Insurgent.
  • Evolved Behaviors: Tris is honest with Caleb about their father’s death and then with herself and Tobias about why her parents willingly died for their children. She also stands up for Tobias by warning his father that she knows their family’s secret (Marcus beating Tobias as a boy).
  • Contrast to the Trigger: Because of the events of Divergent, Tris has become more confident and courageous. Her Trigger self lacked the assurance to openly confront other characters and be honest about her feelings, as her Emergence self does at the end of the story.
  • Contrast to the Comfort Zone: During her Comfort Zone, Tris struggled with deciding whether she belonged in Abnegation or Dauntless, and was forced to suppress parts of her personality because of her family’s disapproval. Now, she has fully embraced her Divergence and understands that she must be herself, not any faction’s defining virtue (487**). Her increased sense of self also makes her feel less inhibited, as shown when she kisses Tobias in front of her brother (486 – 487**).
  • New “Comfort Zone”: Tris is a fugitive, traveling to a faction (Amity) she’s never been to before. She’s with people she loves (Tobias, Caleb) and others she mistrusts (Peter, Marcus), and armed with dangerous information (the simulation data drive) that her enemies will want to recover. In other words, her new “comfort zone” is anything but comfortable.
  • Return to “Home”: One of Tris’s parting thoughts during her Emergence is “I have no home, no path, and no certainty.” (487**) She had gone home to Abnegation briefly during her Moment of Truth; and now, after the attack on Abnegation and betraying Dauntless, she’s not sure if she’ll find a new place that feels like home.
  • Remnants of the Old Self: Tris’s old self resurfaces briefly when she shares her fears about seeing Christina again. She knows Christina well enough to know she’ll discover who killed Will – and Tris doesn’t want to think about how she can be honest with her friend about that.
  • Parting Image: Our final image of Tris is her sitting in the train, holding the flashdrive, and leaning her head on Tobias’s shoulder. The train is an appropriate setting, since she first rode into Dauntless that way. Thus, the train symbolizes the transitions Tris makes from one faction – and one phase of her life – to the next. Her closeness to Tobias and distance from the other characters also indicates that, out of all the people on the train, he’s the person she trusts most.
  • Emotional State: Tris’s emotions run the gamut once again. She experiences both negative (anger, guilt, fear) and positive emotions (confidence, determination, gratitude, love) during her Emergence. She also thinks extensively about the uncertainty of her future and how she can find safety in a world that wants to eradicate Divergence.

Questions to Ask When Developing Your Protagonist’s Emergence

Now it’s time to let you craft the end of your protagonist’s positive arc. Use these questions to cover the Emergence basics discussed in this post and develop a resolution that confirms how the protagonist has changed and hints at what lies ahead for her. As always, you can refer to previous Journey Through the Character Arc questionnaires to ensure her growth from past stages flows naturally into the finale.

  1. Where does the Emergence begin in terms of the story’s overall page count / word count? How long does it last?
  2. What remaining plot threads are tied up or completed during this stage? How are they resolved?
  3. How does the protagonist demonstrate she has changed for the better and is fully committed to her new truth? What actions, thoughts, and dialogue illustrate this?
  4. How do the protagonist’s actions here contrast those from her Trigger / Inciting Incident?
  5. How do the protagonist’s new truth and other changed beliefs contrast those from her Comfort Zone? In other words, what is her new emotional and/or psychological “comfort zone”?
  6. Does the protagonist share her new view(s) on her old false belief via dialogue or internal thoughts / observations during this time?
  7. Does the protagonist also return to her physical “comfort zone” (home, location of Act I, etc.)? How has her opinion of it changed? If she doesn’t return to it, why?
  8. What aspects (positive and negative) of the protagonist’s old self haven’t changed?
  9. What parting image would you like the protagonist to leave for readers? How would you like her to be remembered after this story? How can you illustrate this through a scene(s), behavior, or dialogue?
  10. How does the protagonist feel when the story ends? What other thoughts of importance does she have at this time?

What are some memorable Emergences / Resolutions from books you’ve read? If you’re working on a story, how would you describe your character’s Emergence? How does it wrap up the plot while offering final examples of how the protagonist has changed since the story began?

Come back in September / October for File No. 13, where we’ll address any lingering questions regarding the Journey Through the Character Arc.

*Reference: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, 2001 paperback edition by Del Rey / Ballantine Books

**Reference: Veronica Roth’s Divergent, 2011 paperback printing by Katherine Tegen Books

33 thoughts on “The Character Evolution Files, No. 12: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 10 – The Emergence (Resolution)

  1. Once more a really detailed, informative article showing this crucial stage in finalising the character’s journey – and one that is fundamentally crucial to the success of the book. Interestingly, I have recently read a book where a major character was killed off after the major climax point and it has coloured my whole view of the series – and not in a good way… Thank you for this one, Sara.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sarah! I meant to include more information about why the resolution is such an important part of the story / character arc and what happens when it’s left out. But this post was already quite long… so maybe a separate post might be in order?

      That’s unfortunate about the book you recently read. It’s hard when something like that happens in a series you’ve enjoyed, and then the character death (or other twist) makes you feel betrayed as a reader. Which book / series was it, out of curiosity?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Demon Road series. I didn’t mention it in the review, except in passing as I’m allergic to spoilers. And it may just be me. But having one of the major characters, who has been alongside our protagonist right from the beginning to be suddenly murdered in the closing stages of the final book REALLY annoyed me…

        Liked by 1 person

      • And yes! I do think that a separate post about just how crucial it is to consider reader satisfaction when completing a story – and what the pros and cons are if you decide to break the rules…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Awesome. 😀 My plan for the next few Files is to do a few “off-shoots” and cover miscellaneous topics or questions that writers might have as a result of the Journey Through the Character Arc series. Then sometime next year, I’m going to start the Journey over again, but covering the steadfast (flat) arc. And I already know the two books / characters I’m going to use as examples.

        That was a very long way of saying “thank you” for your feedback. 😄 *blushes*

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Character Evolution Files, No. 11: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 9 – The Moment of Truth (Climax) | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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  4. I think I like Emergence endings better than Resolutions, but that only just hit me. Anything tidied up too nicely isn’t my favorite. That being said, a good author can basically change my mind about everything 😉

    It’s been awesome following all of these posts, and I can’t wait to read whatever you have planned next in this department!

    Some of my favorite endings (other than LOTR) would be Sabriel’s ending (Emergence, lol), Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (Emergence), The Benny Imura series (a little bit of both, but not terribly “happy”), Murder on the Orient Express . . . I could go on.

    As for my own books, TLCS definitely ends with Mads in a different place than she intended, but she’s more resolute about living life her own way, on her own terms. She’s changed as a person, and maybe not (always) for the better!
    While Knight of the Blue Surcoat has a “hero’s journey ending,” it isn’t completely tied up either. But you’ll have to read it to see what I mean^^

    Liked by 1 person

    • “It’s been awesome following all of these posts, and I can’t wait to read whatever you have planned next in this department!”

      Thank you!! *sighs with relief* I sort of can’t believe this leg of the Files is done. It’s taken about a year to cover all 10 stages. The next few Files will be more or less “off-shoots” from this series, covering individual questions that people have had that can be addressed in a single post. (And hopefully those posts will be shorter than the 4K monsters I’ve been writing. 😮 )

      Personally, I’ve always liked Resolutions and Emergences, and sometimes get annoyed if a story ends too soon after the Climax / Moment of Truth. But there’s a tricky balance to achieve with Emergences, too. You don’t want it to go on for too long after the MoT, or else… well, it feels too long. I managed to keep my Emergence in TKC to one chapter. (Let’s see if it stays that way once it’s time to edit it, because it’s a bit on the overwritten side… )

      Yes, the epilogue to Sabriel is definitely her Emergence. Part of me wanted to see what life would have been like right after the story’s climax… But I was happy with the ending the way it was, too. 😉

      Speaking of reading KofBS to see what you mean… any more news on when it might come out?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t be sad! It’s not going away anytime soon. 😉 A few readers have asked arc-related questions that deserve their own posts, so those will be coming. Plus, we still have to cover the flat / steadfast arc and the negative arc. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad you’ve found it so helpful. 🙂

      Btw, this series will continue for the foreseeable future. Some readers have asked arc-related questions that I’m planning to answer in separate posts. Plus, there is still the steadfast / flat arc and the negative arc to consider. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with your views about the stories ending too quickly after the climax. I know the author wants to leave some of the mystery for the next book, but I prefer getting some time for the part where the protagonist adjusts to the “new truth”. On the other hand, I don’t like it when the character changes fundamentally. Like you mentioned, there must be remnants of the old self too for the character arc to be believable.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this series! 🙂 I’ve bookmarked them all for future reference (and the worksheet too) because they are so detailed and informative. It’s really nice of you to keep this up without a break (4k monsters are, well, montsers after all). I think it will be a great benefit to all writers. *runs away to tell writer friends about this*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Nandini! And like I’ve told the other commenters, the Files aren’t over yet. I’m going to do some miscellaneous posts over the next few months to cover questions that readers have had about character arcs. Then, maybe it might be a good time to jump into steadfast / flat arcs or negative arcs.

      And yes, feel free to share the links with your friends! On social media or wherever. 🙂

      Btw, I really appreciated reading your thoughts on resolutions. I understand that some writers might view either differently, but it’s nice to know when other writers agree with your perspective on a story’s building blocks or a character’s arc.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 5…8/29/16 – Where Worlds Collide

  7. As usual, a very good post on the character evolution :). I agree that Emergence is an important part of the book. At the same time, it got me thinking that the structure itself might not be the best solution for series: one of my beta-readers, when he learned that my WIP is part of something bigger, suggested removing several chapters from it, to both make the ending stronger and to make it clear this is not the “real” ending, and I have to admit, that his advice made me feel the story is better now (even though I’m not a fan of cliffhangers and the book ends somewhere around “Dark Night of the Soul”).
    So, it has me a bit torn. At one hand, I want “a proper ending”, on the other, I realize something else might work better when the book is not a stand-alone. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see what you mean. And I agree that in the end, the need for an Emergence / resolution comes down to the individual story and the author’s vision for it. If I really wanted to, I could end my WIP with the chapter containing the climax and save the resolution chapter for the beginning of a new book… But that resolution chapter ties up the remaining subplots and still feels like part of that book, not the beginning of another. Again, it all depends on the story itself.

      Personally, I like the Emergence a lot. This post pretty much explains why, and is meant to help writers who are struggling with how to end a traditional positive character arc. And when I read a book that doesn’t have one, I often (but not always) feel as though it ended too abruptly. But I’m aware that not all writers share that opinion, and that’s OK. 😉

      Thanks for your thoughts, Joanna!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. If it’s not a part of a series… well, not even a “series” (because I’ve found that many authors write their series as standalone books that have the same world/characters and 1-2 ongoing plots in the background which I don’t mind, but I’m not a huge fan of), the story “should” have some sort of emergence to give a readerly satisfaction and to prove that the world (and characters if they survived :> ) will keep on going even if the book had ended. It leaves me with much more readerly satisfaction than cutting it short.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This series as been insightful and rewarding to follow! Thank you Sara for sharing it with us. I look forward to the next one.
    I love the way of approaching it as emergence/resolution – it really solidifies the importance of character and bringing the arc to its fulfillment. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Time Flies!: August 2016 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  10. I like how you mention the Parting Image, and the Emotional State during it. I don’t think that part of stories is discussed enough, yet it’s so important for readers. I know I like a good parting image at the end of a story I invested time in reading. 🙂
    Another great post, Sara!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: More Changes Are Coming to the Blog (Plus, Why I’m Excited About the “New” Direction) | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  12. Pingback: The Character Evolution Files, No. 13: Answers to Lingering Questions About the Journey Through the Character Arc | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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