Redemptive Character Arcs

Over at BlogCatalog, my favorite place to hang out with other bloggers,they’ve started a new feature where you can create groups and then those groups discuss things.  God, isn’t the internet great for figuring out yet more ways to waste time?

At any rate, one of my favorite bloggers, Vienne of Eavesdropwriter, started a group called Got Character? which is really fun.  We (and by "we" I mean mostly Mark of Hungryghost and I) have been having a discussion about the character arc of Britney Spears.

Brief aside: I am here and now confessing my weakness for Hollywood gossip.  I so wish it weren’t true, but it is.  I love reading Defamer and WeSmirch and A Socialite’s Life, even though I pretend to be way above it all. 

So, because of that I am intimately familiar with the recent downward spiral of Britney (and can I also just say right here that I hate, hate, hate it when parents don’t know how to spell names properly?  It’s Brittany, B—H!)

The discussion has been about Britney as a novel character, and centered on if she would be more sympathetic if all of her troubles had been at the hands of someone else, say an evil husband who took advantage of her and spent her money.   The consensus seemed to be that if she were the victim of someone else and pulled herself up out of her troubles, that would make a better story than if she was the victim of her own actions.

Isn’t that interesting?  Seems to me that in real life, most of us are very good at creating our own messes.  I know I am.  And yet we persist in preferring to blame others for these messes.  It is so much easier to blame someone else than take responsibility ourselves. 

Yet most fiction is the other way around–characters in deep trouble because of the actions of others.  Poor innocent victims!   Maybe it is time we writers started creating characters that echo the real world, who get themselves stuck way up the creek without a paddle, because they forgot it, not because someone stole it from them, and then have a redemptive arc as they figure out how to get back without it.

At least all this gives me an excuse to read the gossip sites. 

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9 Comments on "Redemptive Character Arcs"

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Vienne
Guest
10/05/2007 11:46

You express what’s been jumbling around in my head beautifully here, Charlotte. I’ve really enjoyed following the Britney discussion and gaining insights from participants. What a great idea to post about it. Cheers, Vienne (Oh, and I’ve got those same guilty pleasures. Love my rag mags!)

Charlotte
Guest
10/05/2007 12:52

I’m so glad I’m not the only one with those guilty pleasures! You think we spend too much time on the internet? Nah.

Charlotte
Guest
10/05/2007 17:00

I know, that’s an excellent question. Not sure how publishers feel about it. Hope they like the idea of a character causing her own problems and then getting herself out of them because the protaganist of my novel does just that!

Mark
Guest
Mark
10/05/2007 15:47

Great article, Charlotte. I wonder what publishers might think?

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Jack Payne
Guest
10/05/2007 21:00
You’ve got a nice touch, Wordstumpet. And, the clarity of your writing rings out. I see you left a “Shout” for me, but, so far, I’ve been unable to see it. My page cuts off after Neighborhood. I’m having all kinds of problems with navigating Book Catalog–adding friends, seeing my shout box, launching a post, etc. With luck, these will soon be worked out and I can see what you sent to me. Or, you could cut through it, and post a comment on my blog http://www.legalthriller.blogspot.com Do hang in with your writing. It’s been a rewarding life for me.… Read more »
Charlotte
Guest
10/08/2007 21:13

Hey Swan, I’d say those are pretty amazing comments for just coming off the top of your head. Thanks!!! Glad to be part of your BC neighborhood and to be your friend.

~ Swan
Guest
~ Swan
10/08/2007 18:18
Hello! 🙂 Perhaps if someone did write about such a character, we’d be able to see a parallel emotional and fearful side to them that we would normally not expect to see. I could see more plots developing, unexpected and interesting new character twists; and writers finally gaining the courage to step out of their proverbial boxes to use their gift of words to portray men and women as truth would have them. I could also see a deep dark study of the character who constantly and painfully struggles with almost paralyzing guilt because he hadn’t taken personal responsibility for:… Read more »
~ Swan
Guest
~ Swan
10/08/2007 18:20
Hello! 🙂 Perhaps if someone did write about such a character, we’d be able to see a parallel emotional and fearful side to them that we would normally not expect to see. I could see more plots developing, unexpected and interesting new character twists; and writers finally gaining the courage to step out of their proverbial boxes to use their gift of words to portray men and women as truth would have them. I could also see a deep dark study of the character who constantly and painfully struggles with almost paralyzing guilt because he hadn’t taken personal responsibility for:… Read more »
~ Swan
Guest
~ Swan
10/08/2007 18:20
Hello! 🙂 Perhaps if someone did write about such a character, we’d be able to see a parallel emotional and fearful side to them that we would normally not expect to see. I could see more plots developing, unexpected and interesting new character twists; and writers finally gaining the courage to step out of their proverbial boxes to use their gift of words to portray men and women as truth would have them. I could also see a deep dark study of the character who constantly and painfully struggles with almost paralyzing guilt because he hadn’t taken personal responsibility for:… Read more »
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