The official blog of Jane Domagala


This is the final installation of my preproduction posts. I hope they've been useful to you. I've covered ideas, characters, plotting and world building. Now it's time to put it together in the character and story arcs.

Character Arcs
Now that you have your characters what are you going to do with them. All characters have to go through some kind of transformation throughout the book. This may be for good or bad, subtle or major. It may be an emotional transformation, or a financial/situational transformation. It will depend on the characters themselves. But they will change. You've just asked them to save the world and they've done it for you (or maybe not). Such events are going to have an effect on them.

As with plotting, it's helpful to have an idea of the emotional and situational state of your characters at the end of the book. Did they overcome their fears? Learn their lessons? Did they lose everything? Or win it all? Did they triumph, or fail? Did they discover things about themselves that they didn't know before? Did their inability to learn bring about their downfall?

When you know how your characters will change, you can then map out turning points in the novel. These are events that have an effect on the way your characters think or act, which ultimately shape who they are by the end of the book.

Story Arcs
The story arc is very similar to the character arc and encompasses both the plot and the characters. You may have heard of a novel having a Beginning, Middle and End.

The beginning is where you introduce your characters, settings and the main conflict
The middle is where your characters run into difficulties, the tension builds and your characters begin to grow.
The end is where the main conflict is resolved and loose ends tied up (if you like neat endings)

This is a really great way to structure your novel, though I have to admit I have trouble consciously marking these points in my own stories. I do stick to some rules though, like never introducing new plots and characters right near the end of the book. Never give away all of your secrets at the beginning of the book. Remember, you're on a journey and you want to stop and see the sights as you go. If you saw all the sites either at the beginning, or the end, the in between would be boring. So you need to think about where you're going to place pivotal moments in the story. When do I want the reader to know that Billy's new friend is actually an evil sorcerer from another world? How far in does my character realise that they're the chosen one? For how long is the king in denial that the world is sinking?

How you answer those questions will depend on the pace and tone you want to set for your novel. But that's a whole other story...
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