Character Development and Novel Structures are Creepy Besties. Here’s why.

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I am a big fan of boiling things down to simple components and not spending a ton of time on things blathering on, so let’s get to it, okay?

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Character Development and Novel Structures are Creepy Besties. Here’s why.
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Novel structure and character development are related.

Not just that, they are creepy best friends. You know the kind. They do EVERYTHING together, drink the same soy-caramel latte, have the same crushes on Bowen Yang, borrow each other’s clothes.

In your novel, your character starts somewhere emotionally and in setting.

Maybe they are emo because they missed seeing Kim K when she went to the WalMart in their town to promote her beauty line.

Maybe they are happy because they finally got promoted at the fire department.

But in the beginning of the story they are something.

            They are in an emotional state.

            They are in a setting.

This is the set-up of the novel, right? The beginning. Act One. Whatever you want to call it.

In a novel, like life, things change. Usually. So, that change is often called a catalyst or inciting incident or plot point one according to whatever writing help book or blog you’re reading. This big change is when Act Two happens—it happens when the change is so massive that your main character can’t be who they were in the beginning any longer. The character is MOTIVATED to react and to act. There is no going back to the world of Act One. That baby is over.

Whoo… That sounds like a lot.

It is. Act Two is a lot.

Act Two equals change. Act Two equals learning lessons. Act Two equals things changing and the main character gets it or they don’t get it. This is about half the pages of your novel. It’s the journey. It’s the meat of the book. The learning. The adventure. It doesn’t all have to be uphill or downhill for your main character, and it’s usually more fun if it’s both.

Then you hit Act Three (the ending chapters, the finale, the closure) and all that learning and change in Act Two? That’s where WE SEE the change for the main character. It’s where WE FEEL the change in the main character.

And they end up in a better place (emotionally and physically).

The structure of the story (all three acts of it) is all about the character’s journey. The story happens because the character makes choices and responds to things that are going on. They are creepy besties. They cannot be apart.

“The tree acts of story correspond to the three stage of the hero’s outer motivation. Each change in the hero’s motivation signals the arrival of the next act.”

Michael Hauge Writing Screenplays that Sell!

Over on the LIVING HAPPY blog this week, we’re going to talk about the three basic character arcs, so you should check that out. The link is below.


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Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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