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How to Develop (Dramatic) Character Arcs with Psychology

Here are the starting thoughts that created Ember Dragon Daughter (EDD): A girl with a trait or symbol she wants to hide that turns into a mystery and a strength. A world where love of all kinds can't be contested, yet the absence has consequences.

I start with an idea and then I ask "why" over and over again. Then, I ask "what could go wrong" until I'm upset for the characters. After that, I sew each answer together until there is no way to untie them. Every why, consequence, and action is tied to a past experience or fear from that character. Everything has a reason.

Each character has a purpose, some with big impacts in book one and others that won't re-appear or share their reasons for their actions until generations after their death.

If you thought the twists, character arcs, and mysteries were intense in book one... you have no idea what is coming in the sequel, tentatively scheduled for Fall/Winter 2021.

With preptober in full swing and NaNoWriMo only weeks away (I'm so excited!), I'm sharing with you some of my character development tips. The hallmark of all of my favorite books are those plot twists and betrayals, so it's only natural that I strove to create worlds with those two themes.

Whether you are looking for your own plot twist for your NaNoWriMo novel or are simply aiming to create believable in-depth characters, this is for you.

How to Develop Your Main and Supporting Characters:

1. Every villain needs to be their own hero. Just as your protagonist has a reason for their actions, so does the villain. Look from their POV. For example - Thanos's motivation in the MCU. He sees himself as the hero saving the universe from overpopulation.

2. Each supporting character is also their own main character. If your supporting characters don't have their own concerns, troubles, interests, and impact on the story then they aren't supporting characters. They might as well disappear. Imagine their own adventure and how that can impact the MC, even if it isn't all explained in that book. For example - Hasley's interactions in Ashkadance helps Ember's main storyline in EDD, but Ember has no clue. The book Hasley Fateless explains how pivotal she was to the plot of book one.

3. Every person has strengths, joys, and fears. So does your fictional characters. To know what will hurt your character in a plot twist, you have to first understand what they like and dislike. What do they want to succeed? What are their goals? What is their pet peeve? What is their worst-case scenario? What childhood memories created the biggest impact on their lives? For example - How would you answer these questions for yourself? How do these answers influence your day-to-day interactions?

4. All of your characters likely need a therapist. (Don't we all?) If your character was being evaluated, where would they fall in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? How would they answer this question from Tony Robbins? How have their past experiences traumatize them? How will these new experiences aid or add-to the trauma?

In the Character Mindset Planner (CMP), the character development sheets I used to develop the main and supporting characters in the Fated Tales Series, I cover these four areas and more.

"The Character Mindset Planner helped me delve into the mind of my new MC in a way nothing else has ever done. I could see her coming to life on the page in front of me—a real 3D character with emotions, dreams, and fears. The CMP is exactly what I needed as I start a new WIP!"

— E.C. Woodham, author of The Lights Out Club

The CMP helps you to...

  • Uncover character motivations and their stakes in the story - what does the MC truly have to lose?

  • Explore their history, why do they have their habits and flaws?

  • Follow a set of writing prompts to understand your character's mindset during the different stages of the novel

  • Explore what your character feels confident and self-confidence about and how this can play into your plot

  • AND MORE through pages of charts, prompts, and reference guides for diverse, relatable, in-depth character mapping

Buy the Character Mindset Planner to use with your preptober and NaNoWriMo book and print the pages again and again for your future novels.

>> Buy Now for $12.99 <<

The CMP is also available as part of the Author Bundle.

Are your characters unstoppable? Rebecca K. Sampson

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