top of page
  • eemontgomery11

CHARACTER ARCS: WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW TO MAP THEM TO A PLOT. PT 4.

MAPPING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT TO PLOT ARC, Pt 1.

Character development and plot are intertwined. Every time a character is confronted with a challenge, that challenge has to require them the overcome a flaw, or use the flaw, in order to succeed with the challenge. Target a particular flaw and make the challenge real for that flaw.

Step 1.

Start with the basic GMC (goal, motivation, conflict). Break that GMC into many smaller GMCs that the character has to succeed with before they can face the BIG one. They need these smaller challenges and successes in order to build the skills they need to achieve the big one. If they already have all the skills (and confidence) at the beginning of the book, they’d just do the thing and be done with it. There’d be no story.

Step 2.

Analyse the GMCs in terms of character strengths and flaws. The strengths are what will help the character achieve the goal, the flaws are what makes the conflict something real to overcome. SWOT analyses are great for this.  Once you have the SWOT developed, you can pull it apart and start matching elements to various actions in the plot. I use a spreadsheet for this (Of course, I do. My life revolves around spreadsheets.)

Plot

Hagan

Arrive in Kimberwell

trust

fear

Meet Perry

love

resolve

Rescue Opalesa

fear

Escape Kimberwell

trust

love

Battle

fear

Caves

resolve

Cave-in

trust

Dragon flight

fear

love

The Four (Warrior Pledge)

trust

Exiles and injury

resolve

love

Opalesa

fear

The fire

trust

Diatera

resolve

Hawkesby

resolve

Queen Araminda

trust

Ardelle: the Four

love

Moving on.

 

 

Step 3.

Colour code everything. Sometimes, even though the character has to overcome a flaw in order to achieve a mini-goal, that doesn’t mean they realise they’ve done it or feel it’s now part of their make-up. It can take time for people to accept they are able to achieve particular things without all the drama and insecurity. The first time they confront the flaw, the colour is rich and dark. Each time they confront it and overcome it, the colour fades (or the other way around). By the time the colour is clear, they’re confident with that aspect. It’s no longer a flaw, or they now control it. This is how the character develops.


Notes:

  1. The character needs to strive to improve throughout. The combination of flaws and striving to improve is what makes them relatable and likeable. Success is relative.

  2. The major flaws are overcome because that shows the greatest growth.

  3. Challenge minor flaws at the beginning. The BIG one can be chipped away throughout, but complete control of it can’t happen until the BIG plot point (the climax) in the story.

  4. The character still needs to have flaws at the end of the story. They can’t be perfect. Perfect people are a myth… and they’re too much of a challenge to meet. They’re probably also a bit boring. The flaws that are left are the cute ones, the endearing ones, the eye-rolling funny ones.


You might be happy with your planning at this point and dive back into writing your story. I often do that at this point. There are stories though that cause me problems and need another stage in development. I’ll discuss what I do in those cases in the next post.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page