Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Arc

I’ve been thinking about the arc of a character a lot lately. About the ways my characters will seek and find redemption. About how the storyline wraps up.

In short, about endings.

That’s because I’m getting ready to begin. Again.

My wonderful agents Julia Lord and Ginger Curwen are submitting a novel I finished a while ago, and my downtime is about over. (I’ve spent the past few months playing around with a TV pitch and pilot for the finished book; sort of like learning to drive by jumping onto the Autobahn.) But now the little voice is calling again . . . Where have you been? . . . And a character has appeared. So it’s time to start telling a new story.

But I’m also trying to be more efficient with my time. I’m not certain I can do it. My process –– from idea to finished manuscript –– is messy. And I don’t mean tracking-a-little-dirt-on-the-carpet messy. I mean a 7-year-old’s-playroom messy. SJ Rozan describes her writing process as driving at night: She sees the story only to the end of the headlights and writes that far each day. I usually feel like I’ve got one headlight out, and the other is covered in fog.

So now that a character has appeared, one that interests me, I’m thinking about the story arc and the ways my protagonists will change and grow. Because of my “process,” the word “outline” frightens me, although I try. I usually create detailed character sketches, fleshing out motivations. But this time, I’m thinking about endings before I consider beginnings. Where do I want the husband and wife team to end up? What do I want them to learn from this character? What struggles should they face?

Maybe I’m really talking about outlining here. After all, isn’t the character’s arc the backbone of the story? Doesn’t is constitute the plot. Hell, maybe I’m an outliner after all.


Anna said...

There's nothing better than being haunted by a character. Way to go!

Rick Blechta said...

I thought you were going to be writing about Advance Reading Copies!

Anna said...

Maybe next time, OK?