Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Character Arcs

Something that has greatly improved my writing is the use of Character Arcs. Once I have an idea of a story and characters, I sit down and write an Arc for both my hero and heroine. It's nothing fancy, nothing long, just a few key components scribbled down. And since I write romance, I make sure that the hero's and heroine's ARCs work together, er, actually don't work together, meaning conflict.

The basic ARC that I've adapted for myself goes like this:

What is the hero's motivation, dream, desire?

How does that conflict with the heroine's motivation?

What is the BLACK MOMENT, the moment when it seems hopeless?

How will that be overcomed and what sacrifice will be made to achieve it? Does the motivation change?

Let me walk you through my Character Arcs for my newest book Chase the Wind so you have an idea of what I'm rambling about.

Hero Kinalan
Kin's motivation:
His brother has been poisoned and there is only one little known cure in the far mountains. Time is short, but Kin is one of the elite cavalry and he believes if a small group rides fast and hard, they can make it.

Conflict with heroine: Kin needs Santil to guide him to the cure, but he is distrustful of her race, the Eaglekins, believing they had something to do with the poisoning. Plus, Eaglekins don't ride horses. She'll only slow them down.

Black Moment: When Kin has the cure in his grasp, but has to give it up for a greater cause. (Don't want to spoil by giving the reason why here.)

Sacrifice: He does give up the cure and the hope to save his brother. He also has to learn to trust the Eaglekins. (But don't worry, this does have a HEA.)

Heroine Santil
Santil's motivation: Santil is desperate to convince the army that even though eagles are being used as assassins, the Eaglekins want that stopped as much as the army does.

Conflict with Hero: He sees her as the enemy. As a proud Eaglekin, she doesn't like taking orders.

Black Moment: Being a captive once herself, she can't watch Kin take another person captive even though that person has the means to save Kin's brother. (Well, I guess you know the plot now.)

Sacrifice: Has to do something regarding the eagles that she swore she'd never do. (Okay, not all the plot is revealed.)
Just for fun, try doing an Arc for your characters and see how that works for you. Let me know.
You can read the first chapter of Chase the Wind at http://www.eaglekinseyrie.com. Sign up for my newsletter so I can tell you when it comes out and what contests I'll be holding for its release.


Cindy K. Green said...

Great advice Clover. Can't wait to read your new book.

Linda LaRoque said...

Interesting method, Clover. I like the sound of your story.


Hywela Lyn said...

Thanks for this Clover. Very helpful idea. I do something similar but it's not as well structured as this.

Your new book sounds great.

Clover Autrey said...

Thanks, gals. I'd be lost without my arcs.

Viola Estrella said...

Your book sounds very interesting, Clover. Thanks for sharing your method.