Using Enneagrams to map out your character arcs will create realistically flawed characters and make their transformations feel real.
Tag: character building
Day 24 is the day your hero begins planning for the final battle.
While your hero is planning for the final battle she needs to tie up loose ends. Now is the time to mend bridges and reassemble the team.
Getting the band back together
Since your main character has been acting like a jerk, chances are she’s alienated some of her allies. Now is the time to smooth things over. Think about what aspect of the character lie caused the original conflict and how the new view will fix things. Show the main character demonstrating the new viewpoint. Consider the secondary character’s viewpoint. She was burned in the past, so it will take more than lip service from your hero to fix the problem. Your hero needs to do something to “show” she’s really changed.
Tie up subplots
Whatever has been brewing in the background needs to be finished by this point (Unless its critical to the climax or has some other function in the ending) The hero needs to be single focused at this point and to the end of the story. Make sure you have tied up the subplots.
This is the time to declare. If your hero hasn’t connected with her love interest, this needs to happen before the final battle. (Romance plotlines are different. In a romance plot, the climax is the moment the characters truly connect) This doesn’t mean they have to have their first kiss/sex scene, but it must be obvious to everyone involved that they are meant for each other.
Your character is ready to face her final challenge, but she’ll need her friends beside her
Your character has been a bit of a jerk lately and driven everyone off. Now that she has learned her lesson it’s time to swallow her pride and get the team back together.
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Time for your character to take matters into her own hands
Day 15: It’s time for your character to go on the offensive. Here, your main character will begin to make her plans for defeating the villain/antagonistic forces. Whether these battle plans are literal or figurative, they should reflect the changes made in her character arc.
In this scene, the character has made a partial transformation, but her arc isn’t complete. Either she has evolved her beliefs into a new lie, or she is willing to set aside her lie temporarily. (This scene will also include any character interactions that must happen before the fight begins. If you have a romance this is a good place for the couple to have a romantic moment.)
Option one: Ignoring the lie
For this option, the character’s lie has been eroded enough for her to put it aside for the sake of the larger goal.
In the Lego Batman movie, Batman is willing to tolerate his new teammates if it will help him defeat the Joker.
Since the new beliefs appear to be incorporated, success seems certain. By the end of the scene, all the pieces seem to be in place. (Frequent readers of this blog will remember this as the moment my husband told our fidgety daughter that the movie was almost over and I had to correct him. lol)
Option two: A New Lie
In this option, the main character has developed a new belief, but it is not the right belief. The protagonist has changed, but the transformation is incomplete or the new belief is also untrue.
In the Lego movie Emmet still does not believe he is “The Special,” but he has gained enough confidence to lead. In this scene, Emmet rallies the troops by giving a speech celebrating his unique ability to be unspecial, and his plan of attack is based on that same belief.
Your character has committed to the task, now she needs to make her plan
Whatever plan your character hatches to defeat her villain, make sure you keep her character arc deeply involved. Whether she has formed a new lie or made the promise to set her old lie aside temporarily, her plan must reflect that decision. Plots might be actions, but stories are about characters. Keep yours in the driver’s seat.
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The character lie fights back
You’ve just challenged your character lie, now you need to determine how the lie fights back. Your character’s response depends on the plot structure/hero type. The number of possibilities varies by opinion, but I’ll cover the three most common.
The reluctant hero
The reluctant hero takes many forms, but the unifying feature is the need to be forced into action. As a result, his first instinct is to retreat. He didn’t want to be there anyway, so at the first sign of trouble, he gives up. This does not mean your hero is weak. Katniss qualifies as a reluctant hero. When she finds Peeta in the river mud, she retreats into the cave. For a while, this allows a break in the action and a chance for Peeta and Katniss to develop their relationship. But the games cannot be ignored, and eventually, Katniss is forced back into action.
The One or Hero’s Journey
In the classic hero’s journey, the first plot point is the moment when the character first learns that he cannot ignore the quest the Fates have chosen for him. Luke returns to find the Empire has destroyed his farm and murdered his aunt and uncle. In the hero’s journey, the hero will respond to the first plot pinch by turning to the mentor for help. Luke turns to Obi-Wan. As the hero begins his training, he will become reliant on the mentor further strengthening the false belief that he is not good enough.
The stubborn hero
The stubborn hero will either misinterpret new info or disregard it. Why? Stubborn heroes have reached their lies through life experience. Revenge is a common example. Heroes with revenge goals are not ready to give up their anger. Just having someone tell them revenge won’t make them happy is not going to have much effect.
Another good example of the stubborn hero is Joy from Inside Out. (I know I’m obsessed with this movie, but the examples are so clear.)
Joy’s lie is based on her personal experience. Consider, when a young child is upset, usually making her laugh is enough to distract her from whatever her disappointment was. This experience has taught Joy that happiness can solve any of Riley’s problems. Now that Riley is growing up, she’s becoming more emotionally complex. Joy’s solution no longer works.
Stubborn heroes aren’t stupid.
When you give your character his lie, make sure it is a logical conclusion to his backstory. Even if it isn’t the choice you would make, make sure the reader can follow the process the character used to reach his conclusion. The lie must be the result of a logical progression.
Your characters false assumptions are still ruling their actions.
Make sure you keep your character’s faults alive and well. One challenge isn’t enough to erase a lifetime of experience. The journey has only just begun.
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