How Do I Create a Character Arch?
By Kaylin McFarren, author of BURIED THREADS
t as in real life, characters on a page should change and develop throughout your story. This is a natural process and should happen to make them a more believable or likeable character. As an author, you can write without this type of development, but those stories are usually noted just for that reason – a character’s refusal or inability to learn or respond to the events surrounding them.
To develop a memorable story, don’t let your characters drift around in this arc. Plan their growth and reactions with events, interaction with other characters, and from inner turmoil or deep-seeded conflicts. Often characters are at war with themselves or their beliefs, and this can affect their growth or change for the betteror worse.
Here are some things you might consider when attempting to create a multi-dimensional character in your story.
1) Do they have resentments, anger issues or grudges against someone in particular? You might call this their inner demons that haunt or distract them from moving forward in their life.
2) How do they feel about themselves? Often a character’s self-image is their greatest determent and what they preserve as a fault may not really exist at all. For example, they might believe they’re ugly, too fat, insignificant, inept or too compliant. If any of these are the case, the changes they experience may be gradual and not be recognized until the very end of your story.
3) Does something happen to cause immediate change? If your story involves a catastrophe, a rescue attempt by a mild mannered character could boost his moral and make him recognize his true potential or unknown capabilities.
4) It could be your characters are resistance to change, which could stall their progression. Denial, rebellion, shock or disbelief would hold them back, but when realization take hold and they finally open themselves to possibilities, the change could be extremely dramatic.
5) Most importantly…don’t force your characters to change through unnatural contrived situations. The change they undergo needs to feel natural and reactive to what’s going on around them. Admitting they’re wrong can be expected but shouldn’t be instantaneous or it’s simply not believable.
6) Your character’s choices, refusal to make decisions, and changes will affect other charactersin your story too. This will set off other character developments, agendas, and reactions. Most people don’t live in a void and your character shouldn’t either.
Kaylin McFarren is a California native who has enjoyed traveling around the world. She previously worked as director for a fine art gallery, where she helped foster the careers of various artists before feeling the urge to satisfy her won creative impulses.
Since launching her writing career, McFarren has earned more than a dozen literary awards in addition to a finalist spot in the 2008 RWA Golden Heart Contest. A member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers, she also lends her participation and support to various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
McFarren currently lives with her husband in Oregon. They have three children and two grandchildren.
Her latest book is Buried Threads (Book 2 of the Threads series).
Visit her website at www.kaylinmcfarren.com.