Author Topic: Character arc question  (Read 141 times)

Offline landmersm

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Character arc question
« on: December 06, 2018, 08:50:53 PM »
Obviously, your main characters need a completed arc. One that makes sense; has a begging, middle, and end; and is consistent throughtout.

My question is about minor characters? How definitive should their arcs be? How much time should I spend on minor characters?

I'm working a story with 2 MC, 1 semi-Main, and 4 or 5 very minor. I ended up closing their arc by having their current situations explained. (There's a six month break in the timeline.)

Any thoughts?
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Offline hillwalker3000

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Re: Character arc question
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2018, 07:02:31 AM »
I use the Snowflake method purely to get to know my characters better, and make sure they remain consistent (i.e. it's no good if one of your minor characters is 17 years old on one page and 16 years old three pages further along).
It pays to spend an hour or so early in the story-writing process to try the following exercise (especially if you're embarking on a novel).

"Characters are the most important part of any novel, and the time you invest in designing them up front will pay off ten-fold when you start writing. For each of your major characters, write a one-page summary sheet that tells:
 The character’s name, age, gender, general appearance and brief history (two or three sentences should cover this)
 The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
 The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
 The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
 The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
 A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline
 An important point: You may find that you need to go back and revise your one-paragraph summary as the novel unfolds. Go ahead! This is good–it means your characters are teaching you things about your story."


It always helps if you believe your characters are real people and have an image of each one in your head. But this is purely for your own benefit. I don't hold with including pocket bios and a list of their physical attributes when introducing them to the reader. Most readers won't care if Jake has blond hair and blue eyes. It's how he behaves and interacts with other characters that makes him leap to life from the page.

H3K

Offline landmersm

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Re: Character arc question
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2018, 08:23:02 AM »
Thanks, that's some helpful advice, but it didn't really answer the question about how detailed should minor characters be? How important is it to the story to fully flesh-out how a minor character ends up?

Example: MC1 meets MC2. MC2 introduces a couple of her friends. These friends pop up from time to time in the story but end up having little impact. I spent very little time concluding their part in the story, although their is a definitive conclusion for them.

Just wondering what others do, and how important the arcs for those background characters are.
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Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

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Offline hillwalker3000

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Re: Character arc question
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2018, 08:48:02 AM »
Minor characters still have a role to play so the reader should be able to differentiate them all from each other. But I'd suggest there's no need to describe every individual in detail if their impact is negligible. If the fleshed-out description doesn't drive the plot forwards or offer some insight into the character that is relevant to the plot, leave it out. The more you leave to the reader's imagination, the more they will be able to engage with the story.

H3K

Offline landmersm

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Re: Character arc question
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2018, 09:10:10 AM »
Thanks. That's kinda what I was thinking, but it's always nice to hear other opinions.

My blog is  https://betterdevil.wordpress.com/  (It's new!)

Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

@ http://a.co/d/hP980yk  (Amazon link)


Offline landmersm

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Re: Character arc question
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2018, 02:06:22 PM »
Thanks for the links. Good stuff there.
My blog is  https://betterdevil.wordpress.com/  (It's new!)

Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

@ http://a.co/d/hP980yk  (Amazon link)

Offline Tak

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Re: Character arc question
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2018, 02:33:20 PM »
I guess the simplest answer I can think of, to your question, would be: It depends on how much their actions influence the story.

In a way they are like background. A man walks into a room, where in a corner the table lamp gives off light. How much does the light influence the story? Is it just a light that he quickly turns off(the light's duty completed for the story). Or does it stay on, but provide feeble light at best, causing him to squint, to fumble around(therefore play a more active role).

So, and this is just me, the amount of time I place on a character other than the mains ones, depends on how much they influence the story. Now it could be later on. For example, your character while out and about the city, notices the movement out from the corner of his eye and spies a young child darting into the alley, you give a detailed description on something about her, something that catches your mc's eye for some reason(maybe the child had blonde hair like his sister when a child : you just want to give the reader something more to hold on to about this first meeting, and the child). The child leaves that scene, the story continues for a ways, but later on, maybe they run into each other again, or the girl is poking her head from behind her parent's leg, this gives an attachment to everyone then. The girl then could be let go, or brought in more as the mc conducts business with the parents.

So again, how much arc depends on how much they contribute to the story. The little girl could have more of an arc than her parents, and without doing much.

Hope this makes some sense. I'm on the cold medicine so a bit cloudy.

Tak
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 02:36:27 PM by Tak »

Offline heartsongjt

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Re: Character arc question
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 06:20:49 PM »
Thanks for the links. Good stuff there.

You welcome. Here are two more links I thought you might be interested in visiting:
http://springhole.net/writing/whatisamarysue.htm
http://springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm