Your Characters Arch

Stephan King is well known for following the gardener archetype of writing. He doesn’t rely on strict outlines but writes and lets the characters and plot develop as words hit the page. To keep the tension of the stories, most conflicts the characters face end in one of two ways. They can succeed, but something worst results from their success. If they fail, they quickly realize that they now face an additional challenge on top of their current one. The reader stays engaged with the story because the characters continue to attempt to address these setbacks. They don’t give up and complain about all the bad stuff; they make an effort to do something about it. By doing so, they learn something that makes them a bit stronger. This cycle of character development continues to the story’s climax, where the character achieves something that would have seemed impossible at the start of the story. They became the hero because they chose to face challenge after challenge. There are no passive heroes.

I expect that we all want to be the heroine or hero of a story at some point. We listen or read about this character type because they inspire. Their choices in the face of danger or unknown may be flawed, yet the reader believes they did the right thing. While no one lives in a fairytale world, we all view our lives through the stories we tell about them. If you want to create a good story, there is considerable value in understanding how you perceive the hardships you face. Are they a setback or a challenge? Do you see them as things that prevent you from taking action or circumstances that require you to take a new set of actions? Even when we have no choice or power over the negative situations that come our way, we can choose how we frame them. We can pick if the event is a setback or a challenge and that choice is essential. As our perception of ourselves is a product of the stories we tell about our experiences, it is worth thinking about the story you want to tell when that unfair event comes your way—being heroic starts with choosing to do so.

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