Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A to Z: Character Arcs

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.

Character arcs can be vital to making your story end in a satisfying manner. Yes, it's important that the antagonist or main point of conflict is overcome, but how did it change your protagonist?

I once wrote a novel where the poor main character suffers terribly, yet manages to defeat the antagonists by the end of the story. It should all be good, right? Sadly, no. I found the story elicited a resounding 'meh' from those that read it. The problem: The character never changed. He was the same guy at the beginning, beset by trying circumstances, who then has to make connections with several shady folks, suffers some injury and emotional trauma, but then comes out on top, generally the same guy. He didn't grow.

So it was back to the drawing board...or keyboard as it were. Time to dig deeper into the character, to make him more active in his journey, not just physically, but emotionally, so that at the end, he had changed, for better or worse.

As you read over the story you're editing, give some thought not only to the plot arc, but also the characters. Are they changed? Do they grow? Did they learn something important about themselves? Are they adequately challenged to create a solid conflict and satisfying resolution?

What's your favorite way to put characters through the wringer to elicit change?

I'd love to visit your blog and see what you're up to with the A to Z Challenge. Please be sure to leave a link with your comment.


  1. Character driven stories are my favorite. I love it when a character grows with the story. ♥️

  2. Excellent advice and explained so well.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador

  3. Hi Jean - not writing novels ... but one definitely needs to be engaged with the character and watch them change in ways that portray and add to the story line engaging us into the book ... cheers Hilary

  4. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger even in characters. We all change, eh? Good post.

  5. Yikes--I completely forgot about character arcs! Sure, I know story arcs, but this is so obvious now that you remind me.


  6. Really interesting and yes, I'm always more connected to the character if he's been through something life changing.
    Pamela @ Highlands Days of Fun

  7. Good post for beginning (and sometimes, not so beginning) writers.

    C: Carolinas & Catskills
    DB McNicol, author & traveler
    Theme: Oh, the places we will go!

  8. Great reminder. It's good when the character has to do things they didn't know they were capable of - and we learn along with them.

  9. Writing fiction is a challenge I haven't tried yet, but it sounds like a good idea to make your characters true to life. Everybody changes in one way or another, over time. Thanks for the tip!

  10. I completely agree - there is only so much of a flat character I can read! This is a question I even wonder about in real life - How do I learn from my experiences & hardships to emerge a better person! :)
    Your AtoZ is v. thought provoking!

    "*Ishieta @ Isheeria's*

    AtoZofHealing - C is for Chakra Healing "

  11. Very good advice :) I love putting characters in situations they have no way to deal with, and it doesn't even have to be the main plot, sometimes it's the subplot. Dragging someone outside their comfort zone is always going to change them. I think that's why I love crossover fanfic so much, because this is just about guarunteed.

    The one thing I really hate is when writers use another character's death to change their protagonist - mainly because it's over done. So many TV shows/movies do it, and it's usually the female character that gets it in the neck to give the male lead man pain. Argh!!! Of course character death can be done well, but so many times it's not.

    I fear I may have ranted there ... sorry :)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves


Join the conversation. It gets lonely in here without you.