Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Part One: Threads of a Novel - Character Emotional Development Plotline

Yesterday on my blog, I posted about Martha Alderson, aka the Plot Whisperer. Her blog and resource page on Blockbuster Plots helped me early on in this journey to understand the three main threads of a novel:

  1. Character Emotional Development Plot 
  2. Dramatic Action Plot 
  3. Thematic Significance Plot
Now...we all know there are other threads in a novel like the Romantic Plot or sub-plots that often develop as we write, and I may post about those too by the end of this series. But for now, I want to focus on the big three.

Today we start with Character Emotional Development.

Step one is to actually get your characters formed. Use this character worksheet by Adventures in Children's Publishing to guide you:
Once that is done, think about how you see each character changing through the novel.
These are the questions I asked myself when planning my character arcs:
  1. Who is my character at the onset of the story?
  2. How do I see her changed by the end?
Two simple questions that aren't really simple at all. We have to take into account a character's history, back story, morals, beliefs, fears, flaws, etc. It's a pretty hefty task. But once you can answer those two questions, you can see the path of each character much clearer. 
  • Use this brilliant worksheet by Connie Flynn to plan out your character arc and scenes that show change.
We all like to see characters evolve. The progression in which that happens is crucial. Remember that it has to be natural. 
Little by little our characters are altered by the events of the story we create. The degree of change is different for every character. Sometimes it's a subtle change, and sometimes a character is the exact opposite of the person they were when they started their journey. The important thing is that the reader sees it, that we weave it into the novel.

Other suggested reading:
Character Emotional Development Plotline by Martha Alderson via Blockbuster Plots

Happy Writing!! XOXO


  1. Ooooh! Bookmarking this post! Thanks :D

  2. Nice post. Even if a character's struggle is physical (climb Mt. Everest) they'd better be doing the emotional equivalent, underneath, or we won't care.