Monday, May 29, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: CREATING CHARACTER ARCS, by K.M. Weiland

Character arcs is one of those writing-related topics that can send even experienced, published authors running for Mommy. Right up there with writing the synopsis and the query letter and creating characters that are believable and avoid being stereotypes.

What is a character arc?

It's basically the change that takes place either in the main character or in the world around the character. And no, it isn't that simple. Because if it was that simple, it wouldn't drive some writers to massive doses of chocolate or other social drugs of choice to self-medicate from the mental strain and agony.

Planning how your character is going to change and grow and learn -- or be so strong in his inner truth that he forces the world to change -- means knowing your character down deep. You have to know the things that have made the character what she is before the story starts. You have to know the weaknesses. The dreams. The fears. The little lies and hopes and secret pains that are going to be revealed during the progress of the story, so the character changes, positively or negatively, depending on how she reacts to those things.

Yeah -- not that simple. But you get the idea? Weiland goes through several different kinds of character arcs, including a FLAT character arc. How can an arc be flat? Easy -- read the book and learn. Weiland walks through each step of the process, figuring out the character's past and present and hopeful or dreaded future, and charts where in the course of the story each revelation or challenge or change needs to appear, for the story to work and for the arc to make sense. Yeah, that does sound simple, but still not that simple. It takes practice.

This is one of those books you'll need to read at regular intervals, to brush up on the advice and tips and patterns during your writing career. Thank goodness someone wrote it!

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