Tag Archives: Character Arc

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

13.22: Character Arcs

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

When Mary says we could do fifteen different episodes on character arcs, she’s being conservative. Notwithstanding, we set out to talk meaningfully about character arcs in one episode rather than in fifteen (or fifty.) We look at the shapes of these arcs, how they progress in our narratives, and the tools we use to get them to function properly in the context of our larger works.

Notes: Elizabeth Boyle‘s DREAM tool for plotting character change is easier to remember when written out. So here it is!

  • Denial
  • Resistance
  • Exploration
  • Acceptance
  • Manifestation

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

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Let’s apply DREAM to plotting a sideways character arc in which a character changes, but the change is neither triumphant nor tragic.

12.37: Subplots

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

What makes a plot a subplot? Must subplots and main plots be linked by something more binding than the actual binding of the book?

In this episode we answer these questions, and ask and answer plenty more.

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

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Consider the following four things – environment, characters, disruptions of status quo, and questions, and which one of these is driving your main plot. Now ask which of the remaining three can contain a disaster that drives a subplot. Write that bit.

Survivor edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and JJ Pionke (coming soon from Lethe Press)

11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due

Our third Elemental Drama episode is a Q&A, featuring Tananarive Due. The questions are from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat:

  • Rather than having a protagonist change themselves, can elemental drama have the protagonist change others?
  • What happens when a character refuses to learn, refuses to overcome their flaw(s)?
  • What are the lines between drama and melodrama?
  • Do you have tips for describing body language that communicates character states?
  • Are there cases where you should not show character growth or change?
  • How do you keep it realistic when writing a character who undergoes a great change?

 

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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In preparation for next month, and Elemental Issue, define both sides of an issue about which you’re passionate. Write down the arguments in favor of the side you disagree with, but don’t use strawman arguments.

Ghost Summer, by Tananarive Due

11.40: Elemental Drama

The word “drama” gets thrown around a lot. What do we mean when we use “drama” as an elemental genre? For us, Elemental Drama focuses on one character’s transformation, and how that transformation affects everyone around them.

This is a narrow definition of the word, but it’s a very useful way to look at books where the character journey is what has us turning pages. We talk about the tools we use to write these stories, and what kinds of things might trip us up.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Let’s foreshadow the failure state: look at something you’ve recently written, and then go back and insert a character who represents the failure state that your protagonist must avoid.

Ink and Ashes, by  Valynne E. Maetani

11.03: Layering The Elemental Genres

For our second Elemental Genre episode we discuss using the concept of Elemental Genre to help you manage sub-plots, character arcs, and genre mashups. We’ve each used the tool in these ways, and we provide examples from our own writing, as well as from works we’ve read or watched.

Here, for your convenience, is the list of the Elemental Genres we’ll be covering during Season 11.

 

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Think of an emotion that contrasts, or foils, the primary emotion in the thing you were working on for the homework two weeks ago. Identify that,  and begin exploring it as a sub-plot.

We promo’d Word Puppets, by Mary Robinette Kowal, narrated by Kate Baker, but the audiobook does not appear to be available as of this writing. Other versions are available here, and of course there are plenty of other books  from Mary on Audible.