Friday, May 25, 2012

One way to tell if you have a successful character arc

There is a very good way to tell if you have a successful character arc for your main character.
Look at the first scene, look at the climatic scene. Did your character possess all the skills to be able to successfully complete the climatic scene in the first scene?  Or would she have failed spectacularly? How did she have to change/transform ? What was it necessary for her to learn? If she doesn't have to transform or change, you don't have a character arc.
In a romance, particularly a series romance that transformation must be directly influenced by the hero. In other words, the main agent for change for the heroine will have been her growing relationship with the hero. If she changes for some other reason, it is probably a story with romantic elements, rather than a romance.


Chris Olesen said...

Hi Michelle, I was just thinking about this today. I have a MS start and I was considering character arc. I'm thinking the hero has already completed his arc when he meets the heroine. Because of his life-changing experience he understands what the heroine is going through. He wants to help her but not push, or preach, or take her hand. So, what I'm wondering, does it work in series romance for the hero's arc to be back story and the heroine's to be the current story? He definitely is the reason she completes her arc.

Michelle Styles said...

Christy --
Meeting the heroine should change the hero in some way as a meaningful relationship always changes the participents. He might need that little bit extra of insight to be truly complete.
What you are talking about is a protagonist story (think Romancing the Stone) v co-protagonist story (think Africian Queen). It is perfectly permissable for one character not to have a deep arc. It means the heroine will be the one with the external goal which needs to be completed and will be the driving force of the story. Does this make sense?

Chris Olesen said...

Those are two of my favorite movies and I've seen them both several times, so I can totally understand the difference.
I'm thinking now that the hero thinks he's reached a level of change, but meeting the heroine spins him 180. Now he has an inner conflict. Thanks.

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks, Michelle! I've been agonizing over the arc of my current hero, and this really helped! :~)