Monday, August 15, 2016

Simultaneous Character Arcs?

Aha Moment: It all came together, like an epiphany. That's what studying character arcs through a series of blog posts by K. M. Weiland has done for me. Before devoting several days to glean all the how-tos and soak up the goods from Katie's posts, most of what I've learned about the writing craft has felt compartmentalized rather than interconnected.

It started with wanting an outline for my third novel (as opposed to a general idea and scripture-based events marking the plot). If I can nail the character arc, I also have a well-rounded, interesting character and the structure for a fantastic plot. These blog posts are full of examples and questions to ask along the way to help structure the arc, along with the points within each act of the story (like an outline).

Arc Types: According to Weiland, the Change Arc (positive or negative) is about the lie your character believes and how he sheds it to become a changed person. The Flat Arc is about the truth your character believes and how he uses it to change the world around him.

Implementation: The main character for the third book is Karlinah's son, Samuel, King Lamoni's grandson. He is a sober young man who wants to do right and make a difference. Because of this, I could use the flat character arc, where he already has the truth figured out but it will test him. His personal changes would be minimal. The flat arc changes are more about the world changing than the character. If I think too broadly, this doesn't work because the world of war between Nephites and Lamanites that Samuel lives in won't change all that much. I need to either narrow the scope of "the world" or give Samuel a Positive Change Arc. I'm left with the same problem in the latter case, since Samuel has it pretty much together at the start of his story. But yes, I can find a lie for him to believe, discard, and grow from in a different way.

How about both? Can it be done? I just might give it a try and see. Will it be as dramatic, as emotional? I can see it working. Before you write me off as crazy, I'd love to know if you've had any experience with this in your reading or writing.

There could be some lie that Samuel believes that gets in the way of want he wants, so that he doesn't realize what he needs. And there could be a major truth that he believes that he uses to change something in his world. If it doesn't get confusing and I can show which goal is the current one, it might turn out positively delicious! If I get in over my head, I can always revert to one arc.

Revisions to the rescue? Discovery is part of what makes this writing journey fun!