Hello Readers! It’s my pleasure today to welcome back friend, fellow author, and Story Empire contributer, C. S. Boyack. He has a brand-new book titled The Yak Guy Project. And today he’s going to give us a writing lesson. It’s a pleasure to host you today, Craig!
Thanks for inviting me over today. One of the standards on a blog tour is to offer up a writing tip. These are hard posts to write, because it makes me sound like I know something. Time is my friend here, because I have a few stories under my belt these days, and I’ve written such posts before. We’re going to talk about character arc today.
Character arc means your character evolves as a person in some way throughout the story. I suppose they could regress and provide an interesting arc too, I’ve just never written one that way.
As an author, we get focused on our plot. We like blowing things up and wrecking cars. In speculative styles, we enjoy our spaceships, ghosts, and magic. These characters still have to evolve in some way even in speculative fiction.
I’ve been known to dig a hole to start a main character, thereby making the arc even larger. This is a neat trick if you are struggling with character arc. How much more difficult would your character have it if he was of a race that others look down upon? What if your heroine only had one arm?
Yak Guy didn’t need any trickery to come up with a character arc. He’s a deplorable, lazy, slob prior to page one. Almost anything he learns, like basic hygiene, will reveal a bit of progress.
Yak Guy’s arc is actually huge. He goes from this state, to a respectable leadership position, but it isn’t all easy. He transitions from using others for his purposes to helping them. There are some prejudices he must overcome along the way too.
I particularly liked the way he learned to deal with a handicapped war hero. He went from a place of revulsion to one of respect, sympathy, and understanding.
Not every character in your book has to have a character arc. Most of them shouldn’t. Make sure your main character has one. It’s easy to get caught up in cool fantasy monsters, or laser gun fights, and overlook this element.
I used the Fool’s Journey in the Tarot as a plot for this book. It comes with ready made lessons for Yak Guy to learn. While this one has action scenes, a different environment, and fantastical elements, the character arc is pretty satisfying too. I’m to the point where I believe an author could draw one random card from the Major Arcana of the Tarot, study that card, and have a character arc to include in a story.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to take a second look at the character arc in your own stories. I also hope I’ve encouraged you to take a look at The Yak Guy Project.
Imagine waking up in the desert with no idea what happened to you. You have clear memories of situations and places, but a complete loss in personal matters… like your own name. This situation is bad, and you have no idea how to get home.
When you’re rescued by a talking yak, the situation gets exponentially worse. You’ve obviously lost your mind. The immediate needs of a ride off the salt pan and searing heat, along with a drink of water, outweigh the concerns about your mental state.
This is exactly what happened to the Yak Guy. In fact he’s been placed in an alternate world and given a chance to start over in life.
Can this selfish, almost parasitic, young man learn to start over in a world where charity is hard to find? Life is brutal and short here, but he’s going to have to adapt or perish.
The Yak Guy project is loosely based around The Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Those with experience in Tarot will spot people and situations from the Major Arcana.
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