Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Story and Character Arcs

One of the challenges of writing is telling the events of a story, and showing the internal struggle and change of a character INTERWOVEN AT THE SAME TIME.

I've been thinking about how I'd like to blend the events and character change a little better. I wish I could make some sage comment here, but really I'm just giving this a go.

Deanna and I don't usually have outlines that lead us through scenes from start to finish. Our process is more like we have characters we understand, we know what the normal world starts out as, and have an approximate outcome we are shooting for--and even then we have a lot of surprises as we write.

But maybe using this to guide our brainstorming could bridge the two goals we have in every story.

Crafting Story and Character Arcs
Story Arc (8 point by Nigel Watts)
Possible Character Arc Guide
Stasis: normal life
There is a ghost in the character’s background that s/he ignores
Trigger: something out of control for the Protagonist
Reader suspects there is a lie the Protag believes and the Protag questions beliefs for the first time
Quest: Try to get back to status quo or improve situation
Protag’s beliefs cause the tension to rise as his/her old way of thinking intensifies the problem
Surprise: conflict, complications, roadblocks
Begins to learn little pieces of the change needed to win but doesn’t see them or use them together
Critical Choice: Antagonist appears to be winning; High stress decision needed
Crushing blow makes the Protag deeply reflective leading to an epiphany, might require developing new strengths
Climax: Highest conflict and tension
Has to fully commit to new way of thinking, take a leap of faith
Reversal: Protag’s situation is opposite from the beginning
Character is wiser, changed or enlightened
Resolution: new status quo
The old situation can no longer overpower the Protag, this is the new normal life

(Oh, and none of these ideas are mine--I credited the first column, but the second column is not from a single source and several sources said approximately the same thing, so I don't know who really said it first. None of the sources I consulted aligned the two arcs together.)

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