writing

Character Arcs & Why They Are Necessary

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Whether they be positive or negative, Anakin Skywalker or Luke, a great story involves a character arc of some sort.  If the story wasn’t enough to change the character in some profound way, it probably wasn’t that interesting.

I’d use Ezra (from The Sword and Shield) as an example but I’m not sure how to do that without spoilers.  So we’re going to go with a popular character: Harry Potter.

There are the obvious changes that Harry experiences throughout the novels; puberty, growth of knowledge, PTSD, but I think the most important change is his belief that he deserves to be loved.

I’m not even going to touch on how much I hate the plot device of leaving Harry with the Dursleys.  I don’t care if blood magic was protecting him, there is NEVER a good reason to leave a child in an abusive home! (Deep breath in, deep breath out…mini rant over)

When we first meet Harry, he is half starved, both physically and emotionally.  All his life he has known neither the love of family or the comradery of friendship.  He was alone.  And no, Mrs. Figg watching over him doesn’t count.

Over the course of the books Harry, welcomes many positive influences into his life, and while such an emotionally stunted individual could be expected to have a hard time socializing, he blossoms. He finds that there is more to family than blood and he finds relationships worth fighting for.

That, my friends, is a positive character arc.  I have yet to read a great book where some form of arc didn’t take place.  Change is inevitable.  Change can also be good. And when a character, influenced by whatever wackadoo events the author chooses to impose on them, rises to the challenge, they find themselves better for it.

Unless the author kills them off…

Bye for now!

1 reply »

  1. This hits home as I just finished reading Libbie Hawker’s book, Take off you pants! One of the points she makes is that good books are good because of a strong character arc.

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