Writing a Trilogy – Crafting Characters

by

Welcome back to our writing series on writing a trilogy. Last week we covered the plot and the different types of ways you can structure your series.

This week, we are going to turn our attention towards crafting characters for your series. The process is very much the same as creating a character for a singular novel, expect you are expanding their story across three.

If you’ve only just joined us, this is a four-part series that discusses how to write a trilogy. You can check out the articles here:

Plus, I’ll have a free checklist at the end of the series for you to download so you don’t feel too overwhelmed or lost with the whole process.

Now, let’s craft some characters!

THE HERO’S CHANGE:

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In this particular arc, the main character typically starts off as the hero. They face challenges along the way including fears, temptations, and doubts in themselves and those around them that will threaten them to deviate away from their ‘hero’ morals.

This type of arc is more centred on internal conflict with the main character as they fight to stay true to their beliefs and morals whilst ultimately working to achieve their goals. An example of a character like this is Harry Potter (spoilers ahead if you aren’t a potter head!)

A great example of this type of arc is Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings. Frodo begins his journey with a pure heart and clear intentions. As the story progresses, the One Ring tempts Frodo and seeks to corrupt him through temptation. He finds it more and more difficult to keep to his morals and his beliefs as falls to the rings pull, and eventually, the temptation becomes too much, and he succumbs to it. Saved only by his friend after the ring is destroyed, Frodo tries to retain some of who he was before the journey, but the memory of the ring forever stays with him.

In this type of arc, the hero, or your main character, should have some sort of change that they experience.

THE INTERNAL ARC: 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The internal arc is one of my favourites, and is actually the arc I’m using for my trilogy. The internal arc can be both positive and negative:

POSITIVE

If you choose to go for the positive internal arc, then that means that you start with your character having negative thoughts such as doubts, fears, flaws, etc that are holding them back from achieving their goal. Ultimately, they overcome these negative thoughts and have a positive internal resolution.

NEGATIVE

The negative internal arc is similar to the positive, but instead of overcoming those thoughts of doubt, fear, and flaws, they succumb to it. They become even more negative than before

The difference between the internal arc and the hero’s change is that in the internal arc, they start with the thoughts of doubt, fear, or flaws. But in the hero’s change, they are hindered by it.

The internal arc can be used in two ways:

  • Over the course of three novels.
  • Across the course of one novel in the series.

A great example of a positive internal arc is Aragon from The Lord of the Rings, who starts with fear that he is not good enough to be king but overcomes it. An example of a negative internal arc is Anakin from Star Wars, who has always had a strong sense of fear and in the end, is consumed by it.

THE EVERCHANGING ARC: 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The name speaks for itself, really. This type of arc is where your character doesn’t really fit into either of these, but perhaps both or something entirely different. It’s complex by which it can play out in any way you like.

For example, your character can successful resist temptation in one novel, but succumb to it in the next. Or your character can start off negative, then become positive, but fall negative again.

This type of arc keeps things interesting, in my opinion, and create tension and conflict around the character, as well as suspense because you think you are beginning to know them, then something happens that makes you realise anything is possible.

Crafting your characters doesn’t have to be hard, and can be done in anyway you like. Whilst these are just three character arcs you can choose, there is no definitive way you should write your characters. Use these as a guide and let your character steer you in the right direction. You’ll know what suits them best.

All finished. Let’s chat! Have you got any other arcs for trilogies? Hit me up in the comments and let me know!