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?
On February 20, 2015, 1000 Voices For Compassion will take to the blogosphere and share their thoughts and stories about compassion in all its forms (love, kindness, understanding, empathy, mercy, etc.). Many of these “Voices” are also posting articles on the subject in advance of the big day. Since I’d been debating between two ideas I like equally, I decided, “Why not pursue both, and make one the lead-in article?” 🙂
As an avid reader and a novelist-in-progress, some of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned have come from literature. So, for my lead-in to #1000Speak, I’m doing a literary “exploration” of compassion that aligns with my DIY MFA column “Theme: A Story’s Soul.” Below are some acts of compassion from books I’ve read over the years. As you read the examples, think about what you can learn from each character, as well as the impact their decisions or actions may have on other characters, their world, and the story’s audience. Maybe you’ll want to add some of these books to your wishlist if you haven’t read them yet. Either way, I hope you’ll find this sampling of literary compassion as inspiring as I do.
NOTE: Some of the following examples contain spoilers (either major and minor) that are necessary for discussing the topic at hand. Continue reading
Don’t Make Your Female Character (Too) Strong – Make Her Believable
Chapters Completed: 18
Chapters In Progress: 4
Chapters Not Started: 12
“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with writing my current work-in-progress (WIP), which is a fantasy novel. Every 5,000 words, I let readers know what I’ve accomplished since the previous article and share advice, discoveries, techniques, etc. Besides the word count in each article title, a “chapter ticker” at the top also tracks my progress as I use the skip-around / “writercopter” method to write the novel. Today’s installment celebrates the book reaching 70,000 words in length.
Wow. Has it really been less than one month since the novel passed 65,000 words? It feels like it’s too soon to write this article for 70,000, especially with the non-writing commitments I’ve had the past few weeks. (Then again, when are summers not a busy time of year?) I even combed through the current draft chapter by chapter with the word counter after finishing Saturday’s session, just to make sure the math wasn’t off somewhere on my Excel tracking sheet. It wasn’t. So I sit here now, convinced I’m wearing bemusement on my face because that’s 1000% (yes, one-thousand percent) how I feel: baffled yet flutteringly happy.
Here’s what I’ve worked on since the previous Chronicle: Continue reading
Textbooks + Statistics = Back To School?
Chapters In Progress: 5
Chapters Completed: 4
The writing vacation was a huge success! Instead of taking almost 2 months to reach the next milestone (as it did last time), it took less than one week to go from 15,000 words to 20,000 (or 21,000+, to be accurate). Honestly, it felt more like shooting from one benchmark to the next, because of the shorter span of time. I guess that’s what happens when you a) plan to spend a large amount of time concentrating on your work-in-progress, and b) are “in the flow” during each sit-down. And even though I purposely set no concrete goals for this week, I can’t explain how proud and excited I am with what I accomplished in a few days. Continue reading