I found this article on how making a fictional is like having a baby. An amusing post but it got me thinking.
Just like having a baby...most times it doesn't stop there. You can spend tons of time on character creation and know all your characters likes and dislikes as well as what makes them tick, but just like us as children, we aren't simply plopped out into the world and left to our own devices.
When that happens it can have disastrous results.The same can be said for your characters.
As they make their way through your draft they need to be nurtured and cultivated.
This is why it is important not only to create your character and don't be afraid to get as detailed as that article suggests. But don't forget your character's arc.
A character arc is the status of the character as it unfolds throughout the story, the storyline or series of episodes. Characters begin the story with a certain viewpoint and, through events in the story, that viewpoint changes.
Basically a character arc is what brings your character to life, what gives them dimension and makes readers care what happens to them.
A good character arc is what makes your character full grown and not just a baby.
- Where does your character start out at? Whether it be their current beliefs, their mental state, or physically, they need to have that "place of birth" if you will.
- What begins your character on this change? Let's call this the beginning of puberty.
- What does your character go through? How does it make them feel? What does it make them think or believe? Oh those rough teenage years. Does your character get a little rebelious here too?
- Where do they end up? Early adulthood perhaps.
- What did they learn? How have they ultimately been changed by these events? As an adult we can look back and see how the things we went through in our youth affected us and shaped us into who we are today.
This is just my take on character arcs but there are many great resources out there. Ultimately during my revisions of Mistaken I found that while I knew where I wanted the characters to go I didn't give my characters a fully developed character arc. Through the revisions I feel these were strengthened, and while my characters weren't forced down any one path, their actions and motivations were all strengthened by better developing this crucial part.
Here are some good articles about Character Arc that I found useful.
- 3 Types of Character Arcs
- Character Development Drives Conflict
- Transformational Character Arcs Part 1
- Character Arc 101