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4 Posts tagged with the character_arcs tag

A character arc is the way a character changes or grows throughout the course of a story. The change can be physical or emotional, and it doesn't have to be major, but you want your main characters, especially your protagonist, to experience some sort of transformation along their journey.

At the beginning of your story, ask yourself the following questions about your main characters:

  • What do they want?
  • What are they missing?
  • What is holding them back from getting what/where they want/need to be?

The answers to these questions can be broad or specific. For example, here are what my main characters want in my novel Wait for the Rain, which is about three college friends who reunite on a tropical island to celebrate turning forty:

  • Daphne wants to find herself after a failed marriage.
  • Skylar wants to become a CEO.
  • KC wants to have more time with her stepson before he leaves for college.

You get to decide what your characters want, so keep those answers in mind as you write. Also know that your characters don't have to get what they want. Or maybe they do get what they want, then realize they don't want it after all. The important thing to remember is that if your characters behave throughout the story in a way that is consistently in pursuit of what they want, an arc for each of them will naturally develop. And the arc will feel genuine, not forced.

Character arcs are important because they give readers something to invest in. If readers reach the end of the story and think, "No one changed at all," they will sense that something is missing, which will also leave them feeling unfulfilled. Well-developed character arcs satisfy readers, and satisfied readers turn into fans!

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

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What's the worst thing your character can think about a situation?

Torture your characters

1,755 Views 10 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, character_arcs


Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 1, 2016


I want you to be unkind to a character. Just for a development exercise. In fact, I wouldn't even call it being unkind. I would call it being cruel to be kind. Hardship builds character, and that's what you're going to do with this exercise. This doesn't have to be a part of your story. It can be background material, or it can be used to help you break through writer's block.


I want you to pick a character that you're having a particularly hard time connecting with. Now give the character a scar. Make it as big or as small as you want. Place it where you want. Make it any shape that you want. Describe it in great detail. This scar has a story, and you're going to write it. Scars are essentially snapshots of traumatic events in a person's life. Keep in mind that trauma doesn't equal tragedy. Cesarean scars represent trauma but not tragedy, in most cases.

Beyond the event that caused the scar, you also want to explore how the scar affected your character on a daily basis. Did it change the way he or she interacted with other people? Did it change the way he or she dressed? Did it shape his or her personality, for better or for worse? It's possible this scar is tethered to every significant event in your character's life, and it is the essence of who he or she really is. Or it may carry no significance at all. You decide.

By giving your character this scar for the purposes of this exercise, you are giving yourself a simple way to uncover the core of who your character really is and make that connection you've been unable to make.

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor

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Your characters, warts and all


Taking a character from good to bad





1,108 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, character, character_development, characterization, character_arcs

Culture profile

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 23, 2016

I have plans for a book that, in part at least, takes place in Bolivia. I'm a huge Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fan, and it's my way of paying homage to the classic film. I have a major hurdle to overcome first. My knowledge of the country and region is based solely on the 1969 film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.


Obviously, that means I have some studying to do. My goal as a writer is to avoid creating characters that are stereotypes. My view on stereotypes is that they don't provide the kind of depth one needs to develop a character readers will really connect with. Instead, I want to develop Bolivian characters that are modeled using cultural norms and cultural deviations that test those norms.


Now, I currently don't have the resources to travel to Bolivia and do a field study. I will have to rely on books, articles, and videos to find the knowledge I seek. I will create a file on my computer that will be called "Bolivian Culture," and I will start collecting material. Before I even sketch out the plot for the book, I will create character profiles for the Bolivians who will be in my book. I'll do a general outline for secondary and background characters, and I'll do a more detailed summary of the main Bolivian characters. That's where the cultural deviations will come into play. Conflict is crucial to creating multidimensional characters. The practices outside of what is widely accepted as a cultural norm are a great place to find conflict to fully develop a character.


When writing characters that come from a different culture than you, steer clear of stereotypes. Dive deeper and do your homework in order to create a culture profile that will give your characters depth.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Give your characters virtual depth

Start a dialogue with your characters

952 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, characters, craft, character_development, writing_advice, character_arcs

In a previous post, I talked about character arcs. This week, I'd like to delve into the characters themselves. I like to give mine little quirks. Why? Because I think quirks are what make people real, and I want my readers to think my characters are like real people.


Here's an example: I've written four novels with the same protagonist, and once in a while she tells corny jokes. She thinks they're funny, but the truth is they're pretty stupid. (I get most of them from my sister, who gets them from her nine-year-old son.) The jokes are admittedly silly, but I've received many emails from readers telling me how much they love that my protagonist continues to tell them. Some readers have even sent me suggestions for corny jokes to use in future books.


Quirks can come in all shapes and sizes. Does your character have a pet phrase? (Think Vince Vaughn in Swingers and "Vegas, Baby") A phobia? (Think Indiana Jones and snakes) A favorite drink? (Think James Bond and "shaken, not stirred") A mild obsession? (Think Monica from Friends and cleanliness). These idiosyncrasies help the characters jump off the screen (or leap off the pages) into the real world. They bring the characters to life, which is exactly what you want. Cardboard people are boring, and cardboard characters are just as uninteresting.


One of my favorite characters in my novels is a witty guy who likes to wear T-shirts with equally witty slogans on them. Every time I wrote him into a scene I was excited to find out what his T-shirt was going to say. I wish I could be friends with this guy in real life, I found myself thinking. And I made him up!


As you work on developing your characters, think of how you can make them unique. In real life, no two people are exactly alike, but in the pages of your book it's up to you to show the reader why your characters are different. It can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but once you let your imagination get to work, it's not as hard as you might think. Just go with it, and have fun.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at


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What Is a Character Arc?

Give Your Characters Virtual Depth

2,746 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, character_arcs