Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a enjoyable and safe end to your 2015; and would like to wish you the best in health, love, and creativity for 2016.
Also, I know I keep thanking you, the readers, for helping to make this blog what it has become… But, honestly, YOU deserve so much of the credit. Thank you for commenting on each post, sharing your thoughts and ideas, and sharing the links on your own blogs and on social media. Most importantly, thank you for your enthusiasm, encouragement, and thoughtful feedback. You put a smile on my face every day I’m here. 🙂
I used last year’s Happy New Year post to sort of “wrap up” the 2014 highlights for the blog and for me personally, and to look ahead to 2015. Since I was happy with the final product, I’ll do the same again for this year’s:
Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly 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 Character Arc with File No. 5, which focuses on the Point of No Return (or the end of Act I).
So far in our journey through the positive character arc, we’ve covered the Trigger / Inciting Incident (Stage 1), which sparks the protagonist’s arc; and the Comfort Zone / Act I (Stage 2), where the protagonist struggles with how the Trigger affects the life he knows. However, we haven’t touched on the end of Act I yet. This scene is a major plot point on its own – it signals the moment when the protagonist leaves his Comfort Zone for good and becomes fully engaged in the main conflict, while knowing that things will never be the same. It is, in essence, the Point of No Return; and it’s significant enough to have its own stage in character evolution.
During Character Evolution File No. 5, we’ll discover why the end of Act I is so pivotal for the protagonist by discussing the stage’s key elements and its impact on false beliefs. We’ll also encounter the Points of No Return for the two characters we’ve been following on their journeys through their respective arcs. Hang on, because the road to change is about to get bumpy.
Don’t forget to follow along with our journey by using the Story Structure & Character Arc Alignment Chart. Click here to visit Worksheets for Writers and download the chart.
Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly 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 Character Arc with File No. 4, which focuses on the Comfort Zone (or Act I).
Once a protagonist’s character arc has been triggered, nothing can stop the impending change. That change usually doesn’t come right away, giving the protagonist time to linger in the world she knows, the life she’s grown comfortable living, and the false belief she clings to. You might already recognize this as Act I of the three-act story structure. And for our journey through the positive arc, this second stage of character evolution is ironically called the Comfort Zone.
Why is it ironic, you ask? You’ll find the answer to that question as you read Character Evolution File No. 4. We’ll cover the keys to creating a Comfort Zone that flows logically from the Trigger / Inciting Incident and reflects the character’s false belief. And like last time, we’ll follow two well-known fictional characters through their separate Comfort Zones and see how they demonstrate that, even though they’re not ready to change yet, they have the potential that will make their evolution possible.
Remember that you can follow along with our journey through the positive arc by referring to the Story Structure & Character Arc Alignment Chart. Click here to visit Worksheets for Writers and download the chart.
Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly 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 begin our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 03, which focuses on the Trigger (a.k.a. the Inciting Incident).
A character’s evolution doesn’t ignite on its own. Like a firework, it needs a spark – something that catalyzes the plot as well as the protagonist’s arc – so the story can take off. This is the moment where your story truly begins. In story-structure land, this is known as the Inciting Incident. For the purposes of the Character Evolution Files, however, we’ll give it a different name: the Trigger.
This first stage in our journey through a positive character arc is the subject of Character Evolution File No. 03. We’ll discuss the important elements of an arc Trigger, the role that untruths or “false beliefs” play in arcs, and how this arc stage aligns with the Inciting Incident. Also, we’ll study two examples of Triggers using well-known fictional characters, both of whom we’ll follow during our journey through the positive arc. (Hint: Check out the banner above to guess who will be featured.) Oh, and there might be a downloadable goodie for you at the end. 😉
Shall we begin?
Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly 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 the series with File No. 02, which discusses the three types of character arcs.
We launched the Character Evolution Files last month by defining the term “character evolution,” explaining why character evolution (specifically character arcs) is crucial to a story, and listing the stages that align a standard arc with the story plot. Logically speaking, the next step would be to start exploring the journey through the arc, right? Well… not quite.
Here’s the catch: More than one type of character arc exists. Our characters can change for better or worse. Or, perhaps they might not change much, except in strength of resolve. So, how do writers determine what kind of arc a character is following, or which arc fits our story best?
That’s the purpose of File No. 2. We’ll go over the three standard types of character arcs and how they differ from each other so we can understand how they function. Plus, we’ll review an example of each arc from published literature, and end with how to determine which type of arc will work best for your character. Ready?
Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly 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 kick things off with File 01, which explores two important questions: “What is character evolution?” and “Why is it important?”
So many elements comprise the art of novel-writing: plot, voice, setting, characters… The list goes on, and it’s impossible to say that one element is more crucial than the other. However, when I think back on some of my favorite stories of all time, many share one common element: a clear character arc. Perhaps the protagonist grows as a result of his journey, or he learns something because of his endeavors. Either way, he’s not the same person at the end of the novel that he was in Chapter 1. This kind of evolution can create a truly memorable story that sticks with readers long after they finish it.
So, what exactly is “character evolution”? What launches a character arc? And, why is it important to begin with? Before we dive too deep, let’s define our terms and ensure we have a solid foundation for building this series.
Happy Monday, everyone! 😉
I’ve worked on some more site updates since the main overhaul 3 weeks ago. In addition, some new article ideas have been percolating – ideas that excite me, but have caused me to reconsider aspects of my blogging schedule. So, I wanted to let you know what’s new, what may be changing, and what may be on the way.
As always, I welcome any questions, suggestions,or other feedback you have. Feel free to post them in the Comments section at the end of this article. Continue reading
A Dance With Dragons (A Song Of Fire And Ice, Book #5)
George R.R. Martin
959 pages (hardcover)
Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.
This month has soared by, which makes this series’ title all the more appropriate. April 2015 was a good month, though, and May already has a shot at surpassing it. Tomorrow I’m attending Muse and the Marketplace for the first time, and I can’t WAIT! I’ve sort of “disappeared” from my online haunts this week to prepare for the event (researching presenters, drafting a practice pitch for The Keeper’s Curse, double-checking train and event schedules, etc.). If I haven’t returned comments or emails recently, that’s one of the reasons why. I hope you understand, and I’m aiming to catch up on things next week.
OK. Recap time!
So far at Theme: A Story’s Soul for DIY MFA, we’ve featured articles that deal mainly with themes and reading. However, since DIY MFA is first and foremost a resource website for writers, it’s time we tackle how to write with themes in mind – or rather, how to consciously develop our story’s themes without forcing them.
Today I’m excited to launch a special four-part Theme: A Story’s Soul series called “Developing Themes in Your Stories.” Part 1 focuses on character arc themes and features a brainstorming activity to help you discover potential themes in a story idea before you start writing the story. That way, you’ll know your story’s themes upfront instead of digging for them later. 😉
Click here to read “Developing Themes In Your Stories: Part 1 – The Character Arc.”
New Worksheet on Character Arc Themes
Yes, I’ve posted a brand new worksheet for you today! The Character Arc Themes Worksheet is formatted as a table to help you complete the exercises given in the coinciding DIY MFA article. This worksheet was a last-minute idea, so that’s why I’m making it available here without the DIY MFA branding.
Click here to visit Worksheets for Writers and download a PDF copy of the Character Arc Themes Worksheet.
Got any questions or suggestions for Theme: A Story’s Soul? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @SaraL_Writer with the hashtag #AStorysSoul.