Have you mapped out your #character arcs? (And some fun news!)
Written by: Kristen Kieffer
Happy Sunday, writer. Did you have a great week?
These past few days have been pretty nice for me. After about a month and a half of working restlessly on our free #WriteBoss course and the new Fearless Writer Workshop (link here and here if you want to check those out), I finally got to take a breather and slip back into a semi-normal work schedule. Hurray!
So what did I do? I'm so glad you asked. ;)
First, I participated in a super fun interview over on Hannah Arlene's site. If you've ever wanted to learn more about my writing journey and upcoming novels or get an inside peek at the workings behind She's Novel, go give our interview a read!
I also wrote up a brand new article for the She's Novel blog this week called How to Create Well-Developed Characters. In this post, we talk about what it means to write "strong" characters and how you can avoid common characterization pitfalls.
I'll also be giving you some bonus tips on this topic down below, but first I wanted to clue you in on one more fun new thing happening at She's Novel.
Earlier this week, I created a brand new downloadable resource guide for you guys.
In this free PDF, I list out links and descriptions for all of my favorite writing resources, including writing productivity apps, books, blogs, podcasts, and everything I use to build and promote my own author brand and business.
Did you check out our new article on well-developed characters yet?
Let's expand on that topic a bit here, shall we? One of the things I didn't mention in our article was just how awesome character arcs can be in adding to the strength and purpose of your story.
If you aren't familiar with the term, a character arc is the emotional transformation or journey a character undergoes throughout a story. There are actually three types of arcs:
1. Positive Arcs. In this case, a character gradually transforms their personality traits or circumstances for the better throughout their story. (Ex. Mr. Darcy learns to overcome his pride in Pride and Prejudice.)
2. Negative Arcs. In a negative arc, a character gradually spirals into poorer circumstances or mindset throughout the story. (Ex. Jay Gatsby discovers the tragic truth about his love for Daisy in The Great Gatsby and his life takes a turn for the worst.)
3. Flat Arcs. In a flat arc, a character doesn't actually undergo any emotional change throughout a story. Instead, their values or morals are tested, and they work to overcome this test and remain true to their beliefs. (Ex. Katniss is tested in the arena in The Hunger Games but stays true to herself by refusing to kill for sport.)
So, just how important are character arcs? Do the main characters in your stories need arcs? Absolutely.
While the action in your story will keep readers entertained and intrigued, it's the emotional connection via your character's arc that will help them relate to the character and root for their success.
This character arc is what will make your readers cheer when the hero slays the dragon or cry when their pride gets in the way of their happiness. This inner journey also really elevates your novel from an average read to a whole new level of awesome.
Pretty cool, right? But how do you create your own character arcs?
First, you want to choose the type of arc your character will undergo. There is no right choice here (though positive arcs are the most common). Whichever arc fits best in the story you already have in mind is probably the way to go.
Next, you need to give your character a serious flaw (i.e. greed, pride, anger, envy, cruelty, you name it).
In a positive character arc, this flaw is what your hero will overcome during the story. In a negative arc, it's the flaw that will destroy their lives, and in the flat arc, it's the flaw that will make it hard for your hero to resist temptation.
Once you have this flaw in mind, you'll want to think about your hero's goal and the steps they will take to achieve it. As they come in conflict with your story's villain, how will these conflicts test or shape them for the better (or worse)?
Plotting your story will probably take a few days or weeks, but as you work out your characters' arcs, remember this important key: actions always have consequences.
Everything your characters say, do (or don't do), and experience will shape them in some manner. It's your job to figure out how, okay? You've got this, friend. I believe in you.
So, are you excited to start hashing out arcs for the characters in your latest story? I know I'll be doing some work on my own this weekend.
If you have any questions about character arcs throughout the week, don't hesitate to hit reply or pop on over to our Facebook group and ask the community. We'd love to help you out.
May you have a wonderfully wordy week, my friend.