The Character Arc in Six Specific Stages

Here’s a post I wrote for Writers Helping Writers some months back that I’d like to share with you.

As a writer, you’re probably familiar with the term “character arc,” but what does a character arc entail? How do you structure this arc? And what informs the way your character changes, from the start of your story to the end?

While all characters in a novel can have arcs, it’s the protagonist whose change should be the most significant. Depending on genre and plot, your hero’s change might be subtle or life-altering. A suspense thriller or cozy mystery may show little character growth by the end, when the bad guy is caught or the mystery solved, whereas a thoughtful women’s fiction novel or relational drama may showcase monumental change.

But, in all stories, arcs are about change or transformation. And the stories with strong arcs show a character starting in what Hollywood movie consultant Michael Hauge calls identity or persona.

What makes for a great persona is a character who has suffered in his past and has developed a coping mechanism over time. This is his face he presents to the world that keeps buried his pain, fear, or hurt. Continue Reading…

Essential Character Tips for Fiction Writers

 Today’s guest post is by Beth Barany.

No matter if you’re a plot-driven or character-driven writer, your characters need to feel real so that your readers can connect with and care about them.

If you’re pressed for time or just want to get to the essentials, I recommend these three essential characters tips. By no means are these tips exhaustive. I cover many more brainstorming tools for character and for plot in our newest book for writers, Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, from which this article is adapted.

Tip #1: What Does Your Main Character Want?

What does your character want?

Stories are built on characters and their journey to get what they want. Your job to put obstacles in the character’s way so he can’t easily obtain what he wants. (Otherwise there would be no story.) Continue Reading…

When Slow Writing Leads to Great Writing

Today’s guest post is by Tara East.

Our lives are busy and they’re just getting busier. We’re desperate for tips about time management, scheduling, prioritization, and optimization. We want life hacks and shortcuts. Technology has eliminated some of the tedious domestic tasks that consumed our time and zapped our energy, yet we’re still complaining about being time poor and exhausted.

These days, we expect more from life and ourselves, but creatives can find this approach rather distressing.

A schedule is a great way to see the week ahead at a glance. And time blocking can help you set realistic goals and expectations, especially once you start allotting time to the things that matter: writing, work/study, exercise, and leisure.

But time management, tight scheduling, deadlines, and optimization tactics can quickly become problematic, because—let’s face it—there is nothing efficient about creating art.

While maintaining a weekly schedule may better your chances of completing big goals and reaching deadlines, it is also important that you hold these guidelines lightly. Continue Reading…

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