NaNoWriMo Prep #6 – Do Your Characters Change?

Thor_320Character Arcs

One of the things you may want to consider when creating characters for your NaNo novel is whether they are going to arc. What do I mean by that?

Generally, in most fiction, characters change. They start out one way and wind up another. Why? Well, I think it’s because we like to think that we’re all capable of changing. That we can become stronger, braver, smarter. Why are make-overs on television talk shows so popular? It’s the possibility and the promise of becoming better than who and what we currently are.

Not all characters change, of course, and nor is it required. But I do find that the books and movies I like and remember the most are ones where the character changes.

In the movie Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Thor starts out as a vain, blustery, rash man who cares only for glory. By the end of the movie he’s learned to be less rash, less self-obsessed and is even able to willingly sacrifice himself for others.

Personally, I like character arcs. Not all of my characters arc, but definitely the major ones. Sometimes, however, even having just a secondary character arc can be rewarding. Think of Han Solo in Star Wars. He’s not going to stick his neck out for nobody. Especially not for some princess, an old fossil of a Jedi Knight and a green as grass farm boy. But at the end of the movie who comes flying in at the last second to help Luke blow up the Death Star?

I’m not aware of any books that deal specifically with character arcs. Most books on characterization will address the issue in some form. But I did find some articles on the web that discuss character arcs.

So, think about the characters you’re going to write about in your NaNo Novel. Are any of them going to change? If so, consider giving them an arc.

Character Arc – Because the Only Constant is Change

The 3 Types of Character Arc – Change, Growth and Fall

Creating Stunning Character Arcs 

Character Development Drives Conflict

Character Arc 101

Character Arc Worksheet – This is a worksheet that will  help you chart your character’s arc over the course of your NaNo novel.


5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Prep #6 – Do Your Characters Change?

  1. Awesome resources and a great post. I’m having difficulty coming up with a story idea, but maybe if I create a good character with a decent arc, the story will flow from there. I will check out the links you posted.

  2. Hi Amanda, I’ve found that just knowing how I want my characters to arc and change helps a lot when I’m plotting because I can start asking questions as to what events, people or situations would lead to this change and, also, what conflicts could hinder it. Also a character arc can be related to the theme of your story too. A character who arcs from, example, not believing in the power of love to believing in it can address the theme of “love conquers all”.

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