“Characters are the bedrock of your fiction. Plot is just a series of actions that happen in a sequence, and without someone to either perpetrate or suffer the consequences of those actions, you have no one for your reader to root for, or wish bad things on.” — Icy Sedgwick
“You cannot have an effective protagonist who simply responds to events happening around him or her. Your protagonist must act, not just react.” — Rachelle Gardner
If you’re new to character creation in general, here are three great articles to check out. Otherwise, skip ahead to the section on character arcs below.
1.) 33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters – by Kristen Kieffer
2.) How To Choose Your Character Names – by NY Book Editors
3.) How to Create a Powerful Antagonist: The Epic Villain Breakdown – by Kristen Kieffer
1.) Creating Stunning Character Arcs – by K.M. Weiland (This article starts a fifteen post blog series about character arcs in general. For this week read parts 1-4, which cover the character arc in general. The first article has links at the bottom for each of the 15 posts.)
2.) Building Character Arcs – by Bridget at Now Novel
3.) How To Write a Series – by Writer’s Edit (Read 3.3 Step 3 “Getting to know your characters”. This is really basic!)
4.) Creating Your Villain’s Journey – by Chris Winkle
5.) FAQ: How to Write Character Arcs in a Series – by K.M. Weiland (This article does reference some of those in Creating Stunning Character Arcs.)
6.) How to Craft Character Arcs for Your Trilogy – by Kristen Kieffer
7.) Creating Character: The Case AGAINST Character ARCS – by Script Magazine
1.) Figure out whether you want a single character arc over the course of your series, multiple character arcs (one per book), or both.
2.) Lay out a basic character arc to get yourself started. Does your character have flaws they need to work on? What are their ultimate goals, what will derail those goals, and will they accomplish them within your first book, the entire series, or not at all? What are their greatest fears, and how will those affect their arc?
3.) If you’ve laid out a character arc for more than one character, how do they line up and work together? What needs to change so that they do sync up?
1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before. This is also a good place to reintroduce yourself, if necessary.
Getting in the Mood:
1.) Write for 15 minutes: Imagine an epic narrator from a favorite movie, maybe Cate Blanchett or Morgan Freeman. Write them narrating your character’s evolution through the series.
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing.
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.
1.) Get into small groups and discuss your character arcs and what you came up with for your writing assignments. What type of character arcs did you go with for your characters? How are your characters following those arcs? Do they sync up with the other characters? What thoughts does your group have on making your arcs stronger?