K.M. Weiland has a very nice site entitled Helping Writers Become Authors. Like many sites that help writers, there is a certain monetization of the site with craft books available. I decided to get the free eBook on characterization (PDF). I read that thing, and it was illuminating on character arcs… because that part was unclear to me. How do you do that? “Your character changes an essential aspect of themselves through the events in the book,” say some folks. Yeah, but how does that work, exactly?
Naturally, all you established authors know the secret, and are nodding casually. “Bout time you figured out that elephant in the room, Pontius,” you say. Such sagacity contained in an authorial body! I am humbled that you are here in my blog. Please comment below, I welcome your input. For real.
Anyway, the rest of us are still learning this writer craft stuff, and character arc is a Big Deal. K.M. says there’s three arcs- positive arc, negative arc, and flat arc. The last arc is sort of an oxymoron, right? Can an arc be flat? These are. Some of them.
The character essentially believes the Big Lie about something in their life, and the character arc is them learning the Truth and either changing to accept it (Positive character arc) or not changing and rejecting it (negative CA). The flat arc is the character who doesn’t change either way due to the Big Lie being presented to them.
I like how she put that, and the eBook gives considerably more detail to the positive character arc (about 12 paragraphs) so you get a good understanding of the concept. Character arc drives the story. Without it, it’s like mashed potatoes without gravy, or Wagner, harmony without melody. Nobody likes that. It’s the spice that makes the novel interesting, and intertwines with Theme.
Theme is a little harder for me to grok in a meaningful way. I’ll go back and review this concept, but K.M. seems to be going with the idea that an organic unforced theme is good, and if you force it, it’ll just be like cracking an egg with too much force. Eggshell everywhere, and nobody likes your work.
I’ve found that if I regurgitate the material I just read, I can often remember it far better.
Anyway, so, what are your thoughts? How did you handle the character arc thing? And theme? (How did you plan the theme if you were adding it?)
Scrivener remains out of use for now, since I didn’t watch a useful video on plotting, but this is on my mind right now as I attempt to plot. Those index cards are looking pretty good as an option right now, Jaime– scrivener is kind of a mess.