Reply To: Lesson 3 The Role of External Challenges, Escalation

Home Forums MASTERING CHARACTER ARCS Lesson 3 The Role of External Challenges, Escalation Reply To: Lesson 3 The Role of External Challenges, Escalation


Hi, Ruchama

You know much more about this history than I do. I can’t be helpful on that. I’m looking at story in terms of how it relates to character arcs and by way of what I understand from your responses.

If Andrew reappears (then disappears) and doesn’t create a mechanism for a happy ending, there is no deus ex machina. So it’s not a problem. Andrew’s role making Daniel’s life more difficult adds to the quality of the story.

On the title, it doesn’t matter whether he wants the honor or the respect or the wealth or the land. It appears that one of these at least is associated with his craving and the willingness to deny (or at least not fully embrace) is true identity.

Security is a legitimate need. Needing to own land to have security could be his use of a distorted lens, which is good for stories. Fear is not a flaw. Fear is a natural reaction to threats. Cowardice is a flaw. If he consistently behaves in cowardly ways and moves toward courage, that’s an excellent character arc.

I’m confused on a couple of points. Is he deceiving himself when he decides not to be observant (for cowardly reasons?), but sees himself as being principled for not visiting his grandmother on Fridays?

I’m also confused on the point of the father wanting a landowning dynasty. While Daniel may not be concerned about a dynasty, it’s stated that he wants that land. So he is aligned with his father on this position. That makes me wonder what the point is. If the two agree, the possibility of his father being conniving or putting pressure on Daniel mostly evaporates. People don’t connive against or put pressure on people with whom they agree. I feel like I must have misread something here.

There can be contrivance at the beginning of the story, but there can’t be a deus ex machina. Readers may leave when they see someone (the father) who is intent upon his son following through on being christened bringing temptation into his house, but if they stick with the story, there aren’t any false surprises there.

I like that Daniel moves gradually back to Judaism. I’m guessing this is because of his attachment to Rebecca, and perhaps because of values she demonstrates. It’s a good way to go, especially if Daniel has misgivings about the steps he takes. Each time can be a moment that shows growth, especially if those steps raise the stakes and become more risky for him (or at least his achieving the goal of gaining the title).

While I think it will be difficult to pull off in the novel, I like the beat where Daniel uses Jewish ritual to mourn his brother. It’s a wonderful demonstration of growth, and making it complicate his life is a good choice.

Structurally, I would expect for Daniel to have a black moment soon after. Perhaps making it appear that he has lost both Rebecca (who, after all, is at his father’s mercy) and his chance of the title.

With the turn like that, Rebecca’s love might give him the courage to face his father and insist on his right to have his own identity. He and Rebecca, together and aligned (even though exiled) could make a very strong ending.


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