My five LGBT YA books I want to read this year for Cayce’s LGBT Challenge! I’ve read Teeth and Aristotle and Dante. Need to find time to read the other two! I think I want to read Beauty Queens next. It looks like such a fun read and perfect for summer (whatever’s left of it).
All stories are about wolves…escaping from the wolves, fighting the wolves, capturing the wolves, taming the wolves. Being thrown to the wolves, or throwing others to the wolves so the wolves will eat them instead of you. Running with the wolf pack. Turning into a wolf. Best of all, turning into the head wolf. No other decent stories exist.
lunabeck said: Hello! I did try looking around, but all questions on character development tend to be about HOW to develop them. my problem is a bit different. because i know her development, and how she is at the end of the story and all that, I keep writing her like that in the beginning. so pretty much I’m having trouble writing her BEFORE the she changes cause i keep writing her like she already had everything happen to her. I’m sorry its confusing, thank you!!!
Thank you for your question, lunabeck!
I’d spend some time figuring out what changes will be made to this character over the course of the story and why these changes are made. Where along the plotline of the story does your character acquire some of these changes you’re talking about? Why do these changes occur? What was your character like before the changes?
Examples? You betcha!
So let’s say that your character (let’s call her Tara) feels a certain way about this guy Bert at the end of the story. She likes him. Cool. Did Tara always like Bert? Is it a worthy plot point to make her not like Bert at some time before the end of the story? If so, what changed her mind?
Perhaps Tara met Bert at the beginning of the story and they totally started off on the wrong foot. Maybe Bert insulted Tara’s friend. Maybe Bert had had a few too many Long Island Iced Teas and acted foolishly. Fair enough. It happens to the best of us. Over the course of the story, Tara has to grow to like Bert, though, right? Because at the end of the story, she likes him, and we know that going in. So what changes?
Bert could get a kitten. Everyone likes kittens. Then maybe Bert helps Tara move. That’s always endearing. Maybe Bert apologizes to Tara for insulting her friend, and Tara realizes that she’s been super hard on Bert for months over some tiny thing. Maybe this interaction puts Tara into an introspective mood, and she finally understands how judgemental she can be toward strangers because of her own fear of inadequacy. Then she and Bert move forward as equals in their friendship. Roll Credits.
The point is that Tara doesn’t always have to have liked Bert. It might actually be more interesting if they don’t start off as besties, you know? Tension between characters is conflict, and conflict drives stories. Maybe play around with what changing relationships might do for Tara’s character arc. If she likes Bert when she didn’t before, how has that changed her emotionally? How would such a change affect her reactions to events in the beginning of the story versus the end of the story?
Maybe Tara moonwalks her way through the story as a kind, generous person and an epic dancer. That’s fantastic (and definitely fun to have at parties), but it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if Tara starts off sort of dull and rude? And she can’t dance. Lame.
Basically, what if Beginning-of-the-Book Tara and End-of-the-Book Tara are exact opposites? How could you make that a thing?
What events would have to occur in the story to change Tara from rude and dull to kind and generous, from a non-dancer to an epic dancer?
Maybe she starts going to therapy to figure out how to transform her critical eye into a force for good instead of evil. Instead of valuing the short-lived high that comes from commenting on other people’s shortcomings, Tara could teach herself to use that critical eye to identify problems and her considerable intellect to work with others on creating solutions. Boom. Rudeness into kind generosity.
Now, a change like this could take the whole story to evolve properly. This isn’t a one-trip-to-the-therapist change; this is a life-altering choice Tara has to make. It needs space. It needs time.
What about the dancing, you ask? Well, have her take lessons. (That sort of takes care of the dullness, too. Everyone needs a hobby!) Maybe dance class is where she meets Bert!
(These are, of course, extreme examples. Most character arcs are slightly more nuanced than this.)
If you’ve already got a character that is, in your mind, a finished project, it’s worthwhile to spend some time slowly unbraiding that character. Where do they seem weakest in terms of personality? How can you exploit these flaws in the beginning of the story? What personal or external struggles would cause even a subtle change in their personality?
At the end of the story, Tara, your character, is still human. If, say, Tara went from being incredibly ungrateful to counting her blessings, it is very rarely so drastic a change. Those are the kind of changes you really only see in articles about character development because they make for the clearest examples. They seem forced, inhuman even. It is more likely that if Tara starts off the story being incredibly ungrateful, she will still struggle with being ungrateful at the end of the story, if only internally. After all, the only type of finished person is a dead person.
So if you have an end-of-the-book character in your mind and you’re trying to chart her journey, and maybe she has a habit of taking things for granted, or struggles with it a little, you can trace this character trait back to when it was at its worst and start there. You might even think about mapping out Tara’s development. Creating a map might help you visualize your character’s development vs. the story’s progression if that is where your trouble lies. It might help with timing and syncing up development with events in the story with each step of the character arc.
Essentially what you’re doing with character arcs is throwing rocks (story events) at a wall (the character) over a given period of time (the story). The rocks chip the paint. They crack the moulding. They dent the drywall. Eventually, if the rock is big enough or you throw enough little rocks at one spot on the wall, you’ll make a hole. At that point, the wall is changed forever. Even patching the hole won’t be perfect, and a patch can’t ever undo the fact that there was once a hole.
To reverse-engineer a character arc, figure out the chips and cracks and holes in the wall of your character, then find rocks that seem to match and decide how to throw them.
Just a few hours after star Ryan Reynolds opened up about the reaction to the Deadpool leaked footage, 20th Century Fox has announced they are moving forward with the film and given it a February 12, 2016 release date, just three months before the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. Ryan Reynolds is expected to star with director Tim Miller at the helm and a script by Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.