1. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

    Dec 28, 2016
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    Enough of a change?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Piper, Jul 9, 2020.

    Hi everyone,

    I've noticed that, in most of my works, my main character(s) don't undergo much of a change from start to finish, and I think that's a problem - the whole idea is that they have an arc and that something changes them, right? So I'm trying to really work on that in my latest project. I have an arc planned out for my main character - I think the trope has been done before in other contexts and situations and on different levels of complexity but in the simplest terms this is what I've got:

    The main character knows that, if she stays where she is, she'll die. As in, she knows that for a fact. But for most of the novel she stays, as things get more and more dangerous, because a) she feels her fate is sealed (based on something that happened earlier in the novel where she saw that, even if she tries to change something she knows is going to happen, it'll still happen) and b) her life up to this point has been pretty terrible so she's kind of come to terms with death. Like I say, this is just simplest terms.

    Towards the end of the novel, the danger gets too much, she comes really close to death, and she realises that she isn't as comfortable with death as she thought and that she's genuinely afraid of it. This makes her decide to leave, and she runs away.

    As she's on her way back home, she gets a call/a voicemail which tells her that a character she met earlier on is in danger. She cares for this character so much that she knows she has to come back and save her - so, having "changed" and decided she's afraid to die, she changes back (kind of) but for different reasons: she knows she'll die and she's again fine with that, but not because of the same reasons - this time, because she feels it's a necessary sacrifice for someone else's sake.

    As I say it here, outlining only the changes and nothing else about the story, it feels like enough, but I'm worried that a) it isn't - she ends up doing the same thing, albeit for different reasons - and b) it's so simple that it'll get buried beneath plot and detail and not come off as much of a change at all. What do people think, is this a good enough arc for my character? Obviously a lot more plot happens but I'd say this is the single fundamental thing that changes about her.

    Thanks for any feedback, much appreciated!

  2. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

    Nov 13, 2019
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    I think you're overthinking this. Sounds like she outgrows her nihilism and realizes she deeply cares about someone. We'll know her motives have changed even if her actions haven't.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

    May 8, 2017
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    Yeah, on paper it sounds perfectly fine to me; it's all in how you execute the idea. The change might turn out to be subtle, but well-written subtlety is really nice sometimes in this world of extremes. Finesse and nuance are qualities that I really appreciate.
    The Piper likes this.
  4. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Aug 30, 2018
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    Norwich, UK
    There is such a thing as "flat characters" who have no arc, change and no growth at all and if they do it's barely noticeable and hardly anything. And that's fine in most cases but when you think about it, you're writing about a moment in someone's life, not really their life story. That day, week, month or year is monumental enough to be worth writing about. And those kinds of events usual have an impact even if we don't see it until the event is over. Things do change us and the more you experience life the more you see it. My Dad's death both impacted me positively and negatively. It taught me to stand on my own to feet, give myself advice and trust my own instincts without having someone else to ask and how to cope on my own. But it also made it harder for me to get close to people, people showed their ugly colours after his death which made me had trust issues and become a bit disillusioned with people. His death became about them and what they'd gain. So bad events can be a mixed bag. People tend to forget that and have their character only change for the good or the bad.

    I do prefer a character arc. It doesn't have to be huge, just happen. So here is a link that will not only show you how to structure an arc but also give you information about all the different kinds of arc a character can go through. Hope this helps and best of luck.

    The Piper likes this.

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