Minor Forces of Change #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop #amwriting

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Thank you Raimey!


How often have you said, “They’ll never change.”

Maybe you met someone in grade school, your friendship waned, you became friends again, only to fight and separate for like the fifteen-hundredth time.

Maybe you have a parent who you could never make understand what you were saying. Maybe they’ve said back, “I’m too old to change.”

Maybe a teacher you met got stuck in an educational pattern afraid of new curriculum or props. In any case, what’s true in our worlds may also be true in writing.

This week, I’m focusing on a writing question on character arc and minor characters. Are arcs necessary for characters beyond the protagonist?

Personally, I don’t tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how I can make minor characters change. If they do change because my MC does, then great. If not, *scratching my head* I’m not really sure if the need is there to the same depth as the protagonist.

To address my question, I cruised some of my writing sources and found a great chapter on the topic by K.M. Weiland in Creating Character ARCS: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development.

At the very back of the book I found exactly what I hoped to find:

“…Every prominent minor character should have an arc. Just not a full arc.”

So what qualifies as a minor arc?

According to Weiland and her screenwriting resources, minor arcs should include:

  • Goals
  • Motive
  • Reaction to goals
  • Lastly, are these goals fulfilled in the end?

As far as I can tell, these minor arc qualifiers seem real to life.

Weiland later states, “Your protagonist’s arc is the story (and if it’s not, then he’s not the protagonist). All other arcs must be subordinate to that arc. (254-255)

From what I gathered in reading the chapter on minor character arcs, the basis of your decision should be theme. All minor character arcs should be tied to a goal, a conflict, and a resolution relevant to the same themes as the main character.

Happy Hop Day 🙂

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on June 18, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Oh wow. I never thought about minor characters having an arc. Yikes! My problem is my important minor characters are often the protagonist in the following book, where they definitely have an arc. Hmm… something to think about.

  2. Good post Erica – I’m going to explore conflict for minor characters from now on 🙂

  3. Louise Brady, Author

    I often have a group of characters on a quest, and I always want them to have their own goals and backstory. It’s hard work to connect it all together, but I think it makes the story more detailed 🙂

  4. Some characters might be stuck, but most should grow and change in some fashion. That’s life.

  5. That was really interesting. I haven’t thought much about arcs for minor characters. I can see their importance. Maybe I’ve done them without planning to but I’m going to re-read my story with that critical eye.

  6. Wonderful post and I completely agree. Minor characters shouldn’t take over, but they should be as well rounded in a way as the main, especially if they are seen often. I think it helps add overall balance to the story and brings another level of importance to any characters featured.

  7. I find that there is more conflict if the minor characters have their own agenda and motives. That’s as close as I’ve gotten to their own arc. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  8. Oh how true this rings. Sometimes, I spend too much time mulling over character goals when that character barely gets any screen time. Even if it doesn’t come out right on paper, it certainly makes them realer to me.

  9. I am a huge proponent of Motivation/Reaction units in writing. Everyone should have their own story (even a minor character!) Thanks for sharing

  10. Great points! I love to geek out character motivation. This quote is great: “All minor character arcs should be tied to a goal, a conflict, and a resolution relevant to the same themes as the main character.” Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  11. I adore K.M. Weiland. My dad, particularly, doesn’t seem to hear anything I say. Great post, Erika!

  12. I think most of my minor characters have undergone some changes along the way.

  13. Very good points. A good editor can help point out those useless or too bland minor characters.

  14. I’ve also heard that secondary characters should have an ARC. Glad it can be a small one.

  15. Such a great question to ask and I’m so glad you shared your findings. This is something I’ve wondered as well. I really liked the part about the resolution tying into the same theme as the main character. I think that’s also a great way to create a really beautiful and satisfying end for the reader.

  16. Elizabeth Seckman

    As I read your post, I started wondering if my minor characters have arcs. I always assumed every character learned something, grew to some extent by the actions in the story. But do they change enough to be considered arcs? Hmm. I’ll have to think on it.

    So much to consider in this writing thing…

  17. This post really made me think about an arc for minor characters. I think subconsciously I do this, but perhaps I should make a conscious effort to check on this. Thanks for pointing this out.
    JQ Rose

  18. Victoria Marie Lees

    Thanks for the tips, Erika. This is a gentle reminder to writers to be sure the important characters matter in the story. Bravo! All best to you.

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