About the Author
Johanna K. Pitcairn has dreamed of becoming a writer since childhood--authoring her first novel at the age of nine, and countless poems, stories, and screenplays by the age of seventeen. Later, rather than pursuing a career as a director and screenwriter, she decided to go to law school, driven by her father's opinion that "writing does not pay the bills."
Ten years later, she moved to New York City, which inspired her to go back to the excitement, wonder, and constant change of being a writer. Pitcairn is a huge fan of psychological-thriller novels and movies, and delves into her hopes, fears, friends, enemies, and everything in between in her own writing.
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How to create a successful arc for your character
First and foremost, thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your blog. Every indie author needs all the support they can get, and I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received and am receiving.
Every character has to be as realistic as possible to be believable. The psychology of a character plays a really huge role in the plot and the overall quality of the story. Many timeless tales have shed light on a character’s evolution throughout a perilous journey by diving into the character’s mind. His/her internal conflict, coupled with the external conflict, gives depth to the plot, and more room to play to create a beautiful arc.
The arc is your beginning and ending point. Each character has its own arc. The story itself has an arc too. The arc can be huge, if your protagonist is the main player, or it can be very small for secondary and tertiary characters. The size of the arc doesn’t matter. The arc will act as a measuring stick for the character’s evolution throughout the story.
Let’s take an example: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. There are many characters in this book with many arcs. Let’s focus on two of them, Javert and Jean Valjean.
Beginning of the arc for Jean Valjean. A good man, trying to do the next right thing by stealing bread for his sister’s children during a time of economic depression, Valjean is sentenced to spend years in prison. He becomes this despicable character in the eyes of society. The world sees him as a bad person, unworthy of trust and love. Picture his arc growing from the ground up.
Javert is depicted as the ultra-self-righteous police officer who doesn’t believe in forgiveness, and redemption. His arc actually starts high and gradually goes down.
Valjean will mature, and evolve, to become this man everyone loves and respects, even when he tells the truth about his past acts and demands to be brought to justice.
Javert will turn into a bitter individual, bloodthirsty for revenge, becoming the super villain everyone will hate. Javert will realize that his sense of justice was wrong, and Valjean, despite being a criminal, was a better man than him all along. He ends up taking his own life because he cannot accept that truth.
Valjean and Javert represent the sides of the same coin, and their arcs certainly bear similarities. But as Valjean’s arc goes toward good/order, Javert’s arc goes toward bad/chaos, his sense of justice morphing into abuse of power and personal vendetta.
Readers will root for Valjean. Who doesn’t want the underdog to win? Javert could have earned some stripes if Hugo had decided to shift his arc upward toward good again. But he didn’t do that.
A well-executed arc will manage to draw the readers in and keep them glued to the pages like it’s crack-cocaine (it’s actually an expression I heard from fellow authors when talking about books they devoured in one sitting).
The arc offers thousands of possibilities, shapes and directions. There can be a million plot twists, which will shape the arc with multiple peaks and valleys. The arc can never be a straight line (because a straight line doesn’t show evolution). Ultimately, the arc will reach its high or bottom. However you want the character to evolve, a powerful arc will resonate with readers and make them addicted to the story and the character. Bear in mind that a character can evolve while not radically changing his/her point of view. The storytelling will guide the character to cross-roads (climax of the plot): change or remain the same but there must always be evolution.
About the Book
So rather than face the troubles that torment her, Julie decides to run away from her old life and start fresh somewhere new. But her parents aren’t on board with the plan, and she soon finds her bank accounts frozen and her wallet empty.
With just seventy-five dollars and a full tank of gas, the troubled teen is far too stubborn to turn around and head home. So what’s a girl to do?
What Julie doesn’t know is that her travels are about to take her somewhere unexpected—a place where she’ll be forced to come face to face with the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future.
A tale of redemption, hope, and freedom lost and found, 32 Seconds is a thought-provoking exploration into the human spirit and the nature of forgiveness.