Last week we talked about how to develop characters, with reference to protagonists (Heroes, anti-heroes etc) and antagonists (villains, obstacles in the heroes’ path). Today we will offer an overview of your heroes’ journey.
It is important to remember that heroes are not all “good”. There should be a flaw in their character. Aladdin is a good example- this is someone who believes you need to cheat in order to get ahead in life, who ultimately learns that getting to the truth of who you are and accepting it is important.
This is a good example of an arc- With Vibes (AK Girl) there is a similar plan as she learns who she is, revels in being a “hero” in the sense of fighting and proving her skills before finally realising that sometimes you fight with more than your powers.
By contrast Sal (Wondervixen) appears to be a hero on the surface, but as we learn her backstory it turns out to be darker and more tragic than we first thought. In both cases, the characters need to learn from the past in order to move one on and redeem themselves.
Sometimes characters can all be the focus- for example X-Men, Justice League and Avengers. The trick here is to balance out the conflict while at the same time making it clear why they would unite at the end. Effectively, it is best to think of them as mini-arcs, in order to balance out the story, without resorting to stock figures (eg the jock, the comic relief, love interest etc).
The three act structure is commonly used in stories for a reason. When it comes to your characters, think of these three questions-
- Beginning: Have I introduced my characters? Do people know who they are and what they want?
- Middle: What obstacles are in their way? Are my characters engaging enough and is their story well paced?
- End: Is the ending satisfying? Does it feel earned?
If you feel the answer is yes to all three, well done. If not, look at your writing again. What can be added or cut?
Next week we will be looking at antagonists (mainly villains, but not always!) If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!
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