Last year, a Twitter pal asked me if using the personality traits for the zodiac signs was an effective way of developing characters. I didn’t say “no” outright; each writer has a unique method of creating characters that works for them. The only advice I gave her was to ensure that, whatever method she used, her characters were well-rounded and realistic.
Yet her question reminded me of something very important: I had never figured out my characters’ birthdays. (*blushes*) The only reasons why are that I had been so focused on other aspects of their personality, backstory, etc., and that I didn’t plan on having birthdays coincide with events in my WIP. But it got me thinking:
“Which zodiac signs fit my WIP’s characters best? Do their personalities fit any of the signs at all? And if they do, could I determine my characters’ birthdays that way?”
The short answer, thanks to researching and experimenting over the past few months? Yes. 🙂 But before I explain how we can work backwards to do this, it’s time to unveil…
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.