The Character Journey: Braiding the Character with the Plot
I like to write and talk about writing, plotting, and character. My writing/editing blog Edittorrent has many posts about elements of writing—come visit! Today, I’d like to talk about one powerful way to shape your plot—around the character journey. This will make you more productive because you will have this major plot theme in mind as you design scenes. How does this event further the character’s journey? will be the question you keep in mind as you plot the scenes!
If you think of the plot as the protagonist’s journey, you can overcome a lot of the Fear of Plotting. So let’s talk about the journey, and then connect it to the parts of the plot.
WHAT IS HIS/HER JOURNEY?
Think of the plot as the journey of this character to a new place in life… to some growth or change or understanding. In most popular fiction, this journey will be towards something more positive– she will be a better person in the end than she was in the beginning. (In a tragedy, it will be from good to bad, or bad to worse, as with Hamlet.)
Through the events of the plot and her own choices, the character will have grown towards greater awareness or greater strength or a better relationship with her family– something positive. (Of course, there will be some books where the “growth” will be negative– she starts out innocent and becomes corrupt, for example.) Before this series of events happened, she couldn’t become that “new self,” but afterwards, through the changes she has had to make because of the plot, she has changed within. Oh, yeah, she’s also solved that mystery or won that gold medal or lost the contest or got a new job… whatever the external change is you’ve got planned.
There’s a continual in-and-out between external and internal here– the external events cause internal changes, which allow her to grow in a way that makes it more likely she’ll resolve the external conflict. So one thing you’ll want to identify is what you think your protagonist’s journey is towards– how he needs to grow and change. If you write inspirational fiction, you are probably already doing this, because you believe in the power of spiritual and emotional change.
What's Story DNA? It's the basis of the story, the fundamental elements that determine everything else. But each Story DNA, like our own DNA, is a unique combination of elements.
In my articles, my newsletters, and my coaching, I help you discover the uniqueness of your own story-- and develop it through your characters and plot.