Character and Self-Definition

CHARACTER & SELF-DEFINITON: We self-define in multiple ways. A flat character exists on only one axis. Role — Career. (puppeteer, a voice actor, an author.) Relationship — Duty (wife, daughter, mentor.) Status —Class/hierarchy (Middle class, poverty, rockstar) Competence — Abilities. (intelligence, skill, prowess) The places where the disparate aspects of self-identity come into conflict are natural stress points. For character-based conflict, pry on those cracks.

Character driven stories are a journey of self-discovery. They begin when a character is dissatisfied with an aspect of self and end when the character solidifies their self-definition. This can end in a positive or negative state. Either the character achieves the self-definition they were going for, or they recognize that they never will. Basically, they either like themselves at the end, or they don’t. Happy ending or tragedy.

Now, a lot of people think that, in order to have a character arc, you must have a deeply flawed character in order to give them room to grow. That is an option. But this is often really heavy-handed and can lead to fiction that feels flat or contrived.

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