Oh, am I excited about our returning guest! Fantasy author Maria V. Snyder stopped by here 2 years ago for an interview on SHADOW STUDY, her fourth Study novel and the return of Yelena and Valek, her two most beloved characters. Today, the series ends with DAWN STUDY, and Maria was gracious enough to take time out of her schedule to write a guest post. So, let’s celebrate DAWN STUDY’s book birthday with a “study” of master spy-assassin Valek, his growth since SHADOW STUDY, and the challenges of writing from his perspective.
When my first book, Poison Study, was published over (*cough*) eleven (*cough*) years ago, I had no idea I’d go on to write five more Study books and the spin-off Glass Series. Nine total books and four short stories! I’d also didn’t know that Valek would become my readers’ favorite character (according to an unscientific Facebook poll).
While planning Poison Study, I knew Valek would be Ixia’s Chief of Security and the Commander’s assassin. He’d be distant, cold, and good at killing people with all types of weapons – basically, a stereotypical bad ass. After that, I didn’t really consider him to be more than an antagonist to my main protagonist, Yelena. In fact, I thought if there would be a romance in the book, it would most likely be between Yelena and the Commander. Yeah, well, I’m not the best at planning books, and I tend to discover the true story as I write.
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 look back on our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 13, which answers questions we might have and that readers have posed during the series.
Analyzing the components of character evolution is no easy task. So is using those components to craft a protagonist’s path of growth through an original story. Thanks to our recent Journey Through the Character Arc series, which focused on 10 stages for developing a positive arc, we’re now equipped with a step-by-step process and targeted questions that can help us develop such a path that’s logical and compelling. But have Files No. 3 through 12 answered all of our questions about character arcs? Probably not.
So, for File No. 13, we’ll explore some of those questions. For example, can the order of the 10 arc stages be rearranged? How closely should those stages align with a story’s plot structure, or with the percentage milestones or lengths recommended in each post? Plus, if you found each arc stage’s questionnaire beneficial, check out the final section for a special worksheet announcement! Continue reading
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.