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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Does Your MC Need a Character Arc?

Does Your MC Need a Character Arc?

I’m sure you all know by now I’m a hopeless Pantster. Outlines just don’t work for me. I can write ‘em, but I don’t stick to them.
However, as I was brainstorming my next writing project (or what I hope will become my next writing project) I felt the need to plan something out ahead of time. I’ve had two Shiny New Ideas come to nothing recently, thanks to lack of a significant story arc, and when I stumbled upon THIS site, I thought, “Now here’s the tool for me!”
The title of the article is Outline Your Novel in 30 Minutes – but ignore that. I didn’t time myself, and this doesn’t produce an outline anyway. However, I thought the series of questions presented here was a good way to map out a story arc for the MC in a proposed novel.
It also occurred to me this approach might be useful to writers in the middle of a NaNo project – if you’re stuck and unsure where to go – or if you want to test the overall strength of what you’ve written so far.
I gave it a try, and although it didn’t provide me with all the plot details I need to get started, it did give me a good sense of who my MC is, what she wants, and what stands in her way.
Now, I just need to research everything else. Back to my bizarre Google searches: portals to Hell, Nazca lines, Krakatau, petroglyphs, Algonquian legends, alien abduction, ice caves …
Yeah, I’m all over the map.

14 Responses to Does Your MC Need a Character Arc?

  1. Sarah says:

    A character without an arc can be kind of unsatisfying, but I’ve never done an activity like that one. I do outline, sort of. It’s more like paragraphs and paragraphs of notes.*shrugs* Meh. It gets me from here to there. Good luck with your maybe-possibly-could be project!

  2. Linda G. says:

    Good site, but the trouble is, I never know the answer to most of those questions until after I start writing. My MCs don’t give up answers beforehand. (Yup. Pantser.)

    I like your bizarre Google searches — that’s my research style, too.

  3. Gina says:

    Whoa, those search terms have my interest piqued already! Good luck with the shiny new ideas 🙂

  4. I have some awesome craft books on my bookshelf that point me in the right direction when it comes to plotting. 😀

  5. I think I’d use the questions at the end if I think there’s something missing as I never quite know the answers at the beginning!

    And your research sounds like fun 🙂

  6. I’ve never been a fan of outlining either but I am reading a great craft book right now called Story. It’s more about writing screenplays but a lot of what it has to say can be applied to novels.

  7. JEM says:

    I think all writers are in trouble if our Google search histories are closely examined after death.

    I will definitely have to check this out, I’m stuck in my current WIP trying to move the plot forward.

    I see that you’ve got open spots for the first page critique, I’m so tempted to send…

  8. Ooh, intriguing to a midway sort of pantser! 😀 Off to click!

  9. Oooh, those research topics are intriguing. Sounds like something awesome is in the making.

  10. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss dianne! i went at that site and for fun answere the questions for my wip and it was a big help. yikes! that stuff youre googling sounds just soooo cool. i cant wait to know what youre writing. one of my brothers says im a alien so you could ask me questions if you want. ha ha.
    …hugs from lenny

  11. mshatch says:

    can’t wait to see where you go with it 🙂

  12. Susan Fields says:

    Thanks for the link – I’ll check that site out.

  13. Thank you for the link, Dianne.

    I didn’t think about character arcs when I began writing. When I started reading “how to” books, I wondered how I’d ever keep up with all of it. Now that I’m more experienced, I try to have all of it in mind as I fly by the seat of my pants.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. So I just went to Creepy Query Girl’s site and was going to bloffee something, but I’d seen your comments on some other blogs I visit, so decided to drop in. Just wanted to say I love this Character Arc template thingy, and I’m going to try to apply it for my WIP, and probably become a follower! Thanks!