Friday, January 27, 2012

Character Arcs

I've never considered myself particularly good at characterization. I think I can write a pretty good yarn, with a well-paced plot, an interesting background and the right amount of action, but when it comes to the creation of the people in the story, my characters have tended to be pretty flat.

In the story of Balfrith, I am working to improve my skills by consciously planning a character arc for each of the main characters, of which there are five. Not everyone will get the same attention as Balfrith, nor will their arc be quite as large or satisfying as his, but each of them will undergo some sort of change through the story, some development that indicates personal growth.

I developed the ideas for the character arcs a long time ago, but when writing the plot outline I actually forgot to include those details except for Balfrith's own arc. So, on my business trip this week, I brought a printed copy of the plot outline and I read through it, writing notes on the pages to indicate where I thought I should include the developments for the other four people. I didn't write anything particularly detailed, just a few notes to say something like "Character X should show his weakness here", or "Character Y needs to make a decision at this point".

Since I'm new to this idea of the character arc, I don't really know the "right" way to go about it. I just did what seemed to make sense to me. So far, I think I'm on the right path, but I guess time will tell as I continue writing the story itself.

I have already written the first three chapters, but so far only Balfrith has really shown any development. One other character has just been introduced into the story, and the other three are yet to come. So it wasn't a big deal for me to go back and add in the character arcs at this point.

I'll probably post another short sample from the story this weekend. Keep watching this space!