Monday, January 25, 2010

Character Arc Part Two

Last week we looked at Character Arc for our heroes. What about our villians? Do we need a completed Character Arc for them, as well? I believe so. Readers like well defined characters, whether good or bad. Villians need to be real or we won't believe our heroine really is in trouble. And villians need growth and change. But don't get me wrong. It doesn't mean your villian must be redeemed, although that works for some stories (remember Return of the Jedi?) Change/growth can be for the good or bad.

How are you handling the Character Arc for your villian? I can't wait to hear.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Character Arc

My annual weekend retreat with my private writer's group was this past weekend. We studied charactar arc, which is very timely since it's the next thing I want to talk about here.

What is character arc? Simply put, it's the path a character takes toward the end of the book. How they grow or change. It can a change for the better or a change for the worse. Significant or small. In some stories, characters don't really *change*. But characters should experience growth.

In fantasy, we can play more with character arc. And we have the freedom to include at least one character who is totally evil and doesn't change, except for being defeated (killed) by the hero. In LOTR, Sauron, the dark lord, is totally evil, has no personality and does not change. But he's not really a main character, even though he's the main antagonist. Saruman, however, does go through a change - for the worse. We don't see him before he turns over to Sauron's side, but we know he was not always this way because Gandalf tells us. And we see him fall deeper and deeper into Sauron's power.

So, let's look at character arc. This week, we'll start with your hero's character arc. In the beginning of your story, where is your hero emotionally, spiritually, mentally? What is their hidden need? Where are they in the middle? The end? Have you given the reader a completed, satisfying character arc? Where do you want to see your hero land? What is the end point? What growth do you hope to see at the end?

Lots of questions. You don't have to post an answer to every one, but I've included them to help you really see your hero and ponder where you want them to go. Let's talk!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Sorry to be late in posting this week. I lost a beloved friend from high school to cancer yesterday. I've been thinking of nothing else.

I'd like to talk about ideas. I think we may have touched on this subject, but let's talk about it again.

Ideas are everywhere. They come out of the blue. They come from seeing something - a picture, a friend, a movie, another book. The Bible says there's nothing new under the sun, so when we get an idea, we have to make sure we give it enough of a twist to make it fresh.

Where do your ideas come from? How do you decide which ideas are keepers? How do your life experiences help? How do they hinder?

Let's talk!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year and Setting Goals

We had some good discussion on The Hero's Journey. I hope it's helped you with your writing.
Here is a brief overview:

Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where they recieve the CALL TO ADVENTURE. They are RELUCTANT at first, or REFUSE THE CALL, but are encouraged by a MENTOR to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where they encounter TESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossed a second threshold where they endure the SUPREME ORDEAL. They take possession of the REWARD and are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.

The Hero's Journey is a skeletal framwork that needs fleshing out with details and surprises of the individual story. The structure shouldn't call attention to itself or followed too precisely. The order of the stages above is only one of many combinations. The stages can be deleted, added to and shuffled around without losing any of its power. Only you, as the author, can determine what your story requires.

So, now we face a New Year. This is a good time to set some goals and share them. It's important to have encouragement to keep our goals, so let's help each other and hold each other accountable. What are your writing goals for 2010?