Hello people, it is I, your humble author reaching out to you once again. Many of you are writers or authors, and I want to pay it forward. If you have followed me for any time at all, you know this about me already.
Character arcs are a considerable part of character development, which causes your readers to empathize with them. Much like the big-eyed boy with the black rim glasses living under a staircase, we all loved him. Why? The author did a great job of growing him as well as the other characters around him.
One way we do this is with character arcs. So, Negative arcs???
I get this question posed to me often.
If you first understand what a character arc is, you know that it is basically the growth or change a character makes during the story.
Your protagonist will probably believe some lie that possibly they learned sometime in their youth. They have lived a lie, and somewhere in your story, their ‘truth’ is challenged.
A common lie is, they are not worthy of love. Many go through their whole life because of their upbringing, believing that. A little secret here, I was one of them. Shhh, that is our secret, and a lie that I had to overcome. Those horribly abused children you read about…That was me, and I would have loved the staircase vs. what I went through.
During the plot, they go through twists and turns and discover that their ‘truth’ is indeed false. This can create a crisis for them, which is fun to write. This would probably happen during the climax where they ‘shift’ their thinking. Letting go of the lie and accepting the truth as their new mantra. Because the lie and reality are probably apparent to your reader, they can empathize with your character, which will engender support for your writing style.
What about a negative character arc?
There is the same lie, but the truth remains elusive and, the character now embraces their lie even more and spirals downward into less than proper behavior. Breaking Bad is a perfect example of a negative character arc.
Had I not learned the truth, I dare say that drugs and alcohol might have been my undoing. That would have been a negative arc. Death can be part of a character’s negative arc.
In my novel, Presidential Assassins, Kelly’s arc is compelling. Before going into the military, her stepfather met an untimely demise, after attempting to rape her. While it appeared as an accident, this action put her on the radar of a group that works outside or above the law.
After her mother re-married…Kelly became a military brat, enlisting as soon as she could to get away from her parents.
She was a pilot in the air force, shot down and tortured by the enemy. Kelly, unknown to her captures, is a real badass. She learned as a military brat, at an early age that she had to be tough. When she saved a school friend from being raped by a gang of older boys, she came close to killing them. Her friend brought her father back to the scene in the nick of time. He stopped her from breaking their necks. She had them all down, and now she was going to end their reign of terror, one at a time.
Realizing that he now had a debt to repay, he hatches a plan. Taking the gangly redhead under his wing, teaching her his ways would benefit her. As a master of martial arts, he teaches her discipline, among other things. While some of her talents come from her heritage as a red-headed green-eyed Irish woman, the lethal talents were taught to her by this man. She became a master.
Fast forward past the war and her time in the exchange program on an aircraft carrier, she finds a job as a reporter.
After an explosion in California, Kelly is sent to research who was responsible. During her flight, the plane she is on is hijacked. Guess who kills the hijackers and flies a shot up 737 back into Scottsdale during a storm.
This novel is so full of action you will not be able to put it down.
Kelly has what we call a ‘flat character arc,’ or possibly a slightly positive arc as she does adapt and change to the situations. I say that because, in reality, she arcs positive, negative, and then just kind of flat because she is who she is. She is dynamite with a temper to match.
I don’t care what your gender happens to be; you will fall in love with her.
There is a secret organization that controls world leaders, and she is recruited….That is about as much as I can tell you without spoiling it.
A flat character arc is one where the character does not change who they are. Some examples of that would be Indiana Jones or James Bond. To a large extent, it is Kelly McGuire.
I will put a link to the book here, Presidential Assassins.
If you honor me by reading it, please let me know what you think of it. This is an adult read. There are sexual situations, some violence, and people Die!
My friends, I hope that you are all safe, and staying inside, away from those who this virus could be fatal. With 7.4 Billion people affected, and the world’s economy headed for the toilette, we will be talking about this in the history books for some time.
Much Love…Stay Safe…-TW