The Character Evolution Files, No. 10: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 8 – The Aftermath (Act III, First Half)

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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 continue our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 10, which focuses on the Aftermath (or the first half of Act III).

After writing a story’s Dark Night of the Soul, we might be tempted to rush straight to the climax. That, however, doesn’t give the protagonist time to adjust to her paradigm shift. She needs time to reconcile herself with her rejection of her false belief and to form a plan for confronting the antagonistic force(s) and reaching her story goal. Her past arc stages proved that she can’t simply charge forward and get positive results. She needs to have an idea of what she’s doing – and it begins by exhibiting her growth in small ways.

This often overlooked stage of character evolution is called the Aftermath, and is the subject of Character Evolution File No. 10. We’ll study how, during a positive character arc, the protagonist deals with the consequences of her Dark Night decision and prepares for the finale. And, we’ll see what happens when our two example characters move further away from their growth-inhibiting lies and closer to their empowering truths. Continue reading