Monday, July 1, 2013

Emotional Arc

This week's question from my class is from Sia who wanted to know about emotional arcs.

When anyone mentions emotional arcs I usually wince a bit because I believe no two emotional arcs are the same. Which means I also believe there's no set structure for an emotional arc. Some people fall in love more quickly than others. Some people take until the end of the book to realize they are in love.

But I have seen in both my reading and writing that a lot of characters follow the same path when they begin to soften to the hero (or heroine).

For instance, the heroine has a conflict that usually involves an incorrect core belief. i.e. I can't love you because I don't trust men.

Then the hero does something that makes her aware that this man may actually be trustworthy.

That does not make her immediately fall in love. :)

That just makes the heroine take a closer look and maybe be more open minded which opens the door for that incorrect core belief to be challenged, explored and changed.

ie. Ultimately, the heroine might say... I might not be able to trust ALL men, but this man is trustworthy.

Then he blows it. LOL He does something to make the heroine believe she was wrong to change her belief and she runs back to the belief that she had had the beginning of the book...I can't love you because I can't trust men.

But because she's experimented with the changed belief, it no longer feels comfortable for her to go back to that old belief. Not in any corner of her life. Maybe she works with a man whom she realizes she's been unjustly unkind to.

And the hero does something (note the action here) to prove to her that he is trustworthy and that whatever happened to spur the black moment either 1) was a mistake 2) happened for a good reason or 3) is something she's got to get over...rise above...learn to deal with...

And voila the new belief sticks.

But none of the above is absolute. Books are supposed to be different. All characters take different journeys.

But that's my way of dealing with the arc of change. :) Characters start off believing something. That belief is challenged and tested until it's changed. A new belief is explored. Until the hero blows it. LOL Then the heroine run back to the old belief...which no longer works...then she is forced to really change that belief. Which makes it possible for the heroine and hero to fall in love and stay in love.

In a single title romance, the belief would spill over into other areas of the main characters' lives, not just the romance.

But the point is...Characters begin the book with certain beliefs and goals. The action of the book causes them to see they might not be correct and to slowly adjust that belief until they end up at the end of the book happy, whole people. :)

Happy Monday


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