Today I’m thinking about how the major character of a novel changes through the story. In other words, his or her character arc.
Having the major character change through the story is one of the key ways an author knits plot to character. It is also a powerful tool to reveal character. But why, really, does a character have to change? Aren’t some characters fascinating enough without changing their spots?
The answer is usually no. Static characters who repeat their same strengths in answer to every challenge appear cardboard to us. (Exception: Gregory House in House, and other highly quirky characters. Except: are you, like me, getting tired of House? Is he never going to change? The series’ writers have a dilemma. If he learns about himself, he won’t delight us anymore.)
For most major characters, we need to see the plot act upon the person, changing them. If the events of the story aren’t powerful enough to shape a character, then the events are the wrong ones for that character. Read More…