Tag Archives: Character Arc

13.49: How to Finish

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice

Last week we talked about character death. This week we talk about other, less fatal ways in which a character story can be finished, and how we, as writers, can tell when we’re done with a character arc.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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You’re about to cut into a cake… and it speaks.
(Note: the phrase “the cake is alive” might qualify as “low-hanging fruit.”)

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone
(note: Between the time we recorded and the time this episode aired the publication date was pushed back. The novel is, however, available for pre-order.)

13.47: Q&A on Fixing Characters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

You had questions about fixing character problems. We had had answers! Here are the questions:

  • How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar?
  • How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem?
  • How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive?
  • How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys?
  • How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character?
  • How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting?
  • How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Cheeto McFlair: Who are they, and why are they asking questions of the Writing Excuses team?

Myths and Monsters, narrated by Nicholas Day (currently available on Netflix)

13.41: Fixing Character Problems, Part II

Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice

This is the second of our pair of episodes in which we talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Take a character in one of your stories and split them into two characters. Take two characters from another of your stories, and combine them into one.

The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander

13.40: Fixing Character Problems, Part I

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

This is the first of two episodes in which we’ll talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take your very favorite character that you’ve created, and write a couple of scenes in which you break them by writing them wrong.

Heroine Complex, by Sarah Kuhn

13.34: Q&A on Character Arcs

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

You had questions. We came up with answers. The questions are below:

  • How do you fulfill promises about character arcs without being cliché? How do you subvert character tropes without betraying the reader?
  • Do you need to complete each character arc in a single story featuring multiple characters?
  • What separates an iconic character from a caricature?
  • Have you ever had an iconic character necessarily become a character in need of an arc?
  • How do you continue a character’s story after they’ve completed their original arc?
  • How much does a character need to change in their arc?
Play

Trace the skyline of a mountain.  Treat that line, with its ups and downs, as the narrative curve for a character arc.

Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, narrated by Angela Dawe

13.23: Internal Conflicts

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we can tell when it’s not working.

Notes: the MICE quotient is Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. Mary’s relationship axes are Role, Relationship, Status, and Competence.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Use the Role, Relationship, Status, and Competence axes to define one of your characters. Then determine how each of these creates conflict with the one following it in the list.

An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon