Monday, November 8, 2010

The Covenant of the Arc

As I work on my novel, I've been thinking a lot about plot and motivation and all these other things that are supposed to make my story better. A few months ago I wrote about Save the Cat!, a screenwriting book by Blake Snyder. One of my favorite things that he talked about is The Covenant of the Arc.

Basically, The Covenant of the Arc is a screenwriting "law" that says every single character (except the bad guy) has to change over the course of the story. As an example, he referenced Pretty Woman. Richard Gere changed, Julia Roberts changed, Laura San Giacomo changed. Even Hector Elizondo changed by the end of the movie. Jason Alexander, the "bad guy," didn't. What that says, is that the story is so important, so life-changing to every character, that they can't help but grow and change as a result.

It's true in life. The people who succeed are the ones who are able to transform, the ones who can edit their stories until they shine. Seeing transformation gives people hope. We all want to believe that change is possible, that things can get better.

So to everyone working on a story, whether it's a first draft or a final edit, screenplay or NaNo novel, make sure you give your character's a chance to change.

New Words since NaNo began: 2828
Total Words written & kept on WiP: 8854

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If you'd like a chance to win a book From Me to You, go to the post below to enter. You have until midnight PST on Thursday, November 11 to win The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen or an ARC of Crossing Over by Anna Kendall.

20 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Good advise Sherrie. Thanks!

Anne Gallagher said...

I think that's what makes a good book, a great book. When the characters outgrow who they were.

Great post. Thanks.

Laura Pauling said...

I agree. I think when more than just the main character changes it makes for a deeper more 3d book.

Talei said...

Great advice! I'm in my second week of revising my first draft and I keep laughing to myself - did I really write that. Shock, horror. Yep, there's plenty of room and lots of changes coming.

All the best for Nano! ;)

Kristan said...

Great advice, and great example! (Although 8 months ago I wouldn't have understood it, since I hadn't seen Pretty Woman until then... :P)

Becky Levine said...

This is synching in with what I'm trying to do right now, between drafts--figure out each char's goal and some big obstacles toward it. And, yay, for the reminder that the antagonist DOESN'T change--part of their big problem, right there. :)

lotusgirl said...

Great reminder, Sherri. I'm not sure all my minor characters change. I'm gonna have to check on that.

Quinn said...

I've never actually seen Pretty Woman in its entirety. But, I appreciate the example. good advice.

Anna said...

That is such good advice. I keep hearing about Snyder's book but haven't read it yet. I'm bumping it to the top of my craft reading list!

Carolyn V. said...

That IS great advice! I think it makes the story more interesting when the character changes. =)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love this! This is awesome advice, Sherrie - thank you! :-)

C.R. Evers said...

great post! I love transformational characters.

Robin Mellom said...

Eeek! I JUST read this book over the weekend. It is outstanding!! Totally helped me with plotting this next book. And that covenant part was one of my favorites.
:-)

Susan R. Mills said...

So true! I had to do a lot of rewriting to make every character change in my last project. It added so much to the story!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My books' characters were always just regular people, so there was rarely a bad guy. But they did all grow and change to some degree.

Krispy said...

Love this advice. Thanks!

Kelly said...

Good point. I haven't really thought about the majority of my characters changing...Thanks for the tip!

Jackee said...

I need to read this book! Everyone keeps posting great advice from it.

Thanks for sharing, Sherrie! (har, har.)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I've read Save the Cat as well. Great book! Thanks for the reminder

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