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


I spent quite a while looking around at the material I’ve accumulated over the years about romance genre and arcs.  I also spent some time on the virtues becoming vices.

First, most romances emphasize the “romance arc.”  In addition to external goals and plot, there are a number of romance arcs and “tropes,” i.e. common situations and their arcs.  In terms of character arc, the flaw is generally whatever prevents the character from being able to love. Often this is a false belief or vulnerability that keeps the character from being open to love. The arc involves the character freeing him/herself from the false belief or letting down their defenses.

I couldn’t find the specific William Sloane Coffin quote or context, I believe I heard it in a speech or interview many years ago (obviously since he died quite a while ago). But, I did discover that there’s quite a bit written on the subject.  Here’s a link to a Psychology Today article on the subject.

I  went back to your definition of character arc: A character arc is a journey from a flaw (which holds the protagonist back from full engagement with life) to acknowledging and dealing with the flaw to understanding and (potentially) growth. If there’s a happy ending, the character embraces the change and moves into a new world with deeper meaning and, often, greater connection with others.

None of the sources I found dealt with loyalty as a virtue.  However, I believe you had it right all along, the flaw that arises from an excess of loyalty is bigotry, which you spotted all along.  Other flaws might also apply, but I think you have been right about Rebecca’s flaw from the beginning.  And certainly I’m dealing with her moving from bigotry to discovering that the British people are not evil or inferior, and specifically (in what I hope is a powerful scene) to identifying with Andrew, the wounded soldier wounded in the same battle she was captured in and suffering PTSD from the same nightmare trek across mountains in mid winter.  When he dies the impact on her and the family lead to the final resolution of the relationship arc.




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