Last year, when I went to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I took a couple of workshops that dealt with “character arc”. A new name, (at least for me) for something that’s been around since the first fiction book. Well anyway, I thought I’d talk about it this week. First let me qualify, I am an expert only in that I am also a reader. Books with memorable characters who make a conscious decision about themselves, are what draw me in and keep me coming back.
Ok, here goes, Character Arc to me is when the main character makes a choice. This of course does not mean it will be a choice for good or to change. We all deal with these arcs in our lives. In our stories the decision needs to be stronger. After all we do read to escape our own problems, don’t we? The character needs to be aware of the decision. One might say that awareness alone is a change. It forces the character to realize something about him/herself.
My newest favorite author, Jim Butcher, does this where he shares with the reader something of the personality of Harry Dresden. Invariably through his books we become more attached to the character, because we see ourselves in Harry. It may be how we hope to be, just as much as how we really are.
Bottom line Character Arc is growing and changing. I know some would say the character doesn’t have to change. My response is, when we acknowledge not changing, that is growth in itself. A character liking or not liking what that does to their personally draws me, as a reader, closer. It is part of being a sentient being.
In my book, ‘Not Too Late Forever’ there is change in more than one character. As a matter of fact, the antagonist changes so much that she becomes the protagonist in my second book. I have to say here that she would not let me kill her off.
As you go about your reading, enjoy the change, or lack there of in the books you read. Get drawn into their lives and tuck them away in your heart. Authors introduce the characters who become part of our culture. After all, remember the first time you read a Harry Potter book. Now those characters are more than familiar to all those who read. They have grown and changed or faced the consequences of not changing. Enjoy your favorite characters and enjoy them as you will. I look forward to learning your response to my main and minor characters. In the meantime happy reading.