Thematic Character Arcs

In the previous post I discussed thematic stance, how each character can bring a different perspective to the topic of a theme. All of the characters might agree that a war needs to be fought. One might do so out of patriotism, another from their compassion toward the oppressed, and a third out of opportunistic impulses. The stances in relation to authorial statements regarding the theme can be used to develop thematic character arcs.

Thematic Character Arcs

To put this in the simplest terms, the characters will make decisions based on their stance toward the theme. Using the theme of war from the example above, one character might enlist in the Army out of a sense of patriotic duty. The second character might be a journalist, and go into an area that’s been ravaged by the enemy, to show the human cost and drum up popular support for the war. That third character might be an arms dealer, or a black marketeer, someone in a position to profit from a prolonged conflict.

If my authorial statement is that war is bad, then they are in conflict. Their character arcs will have bad things happen to them as a direct result of their choices to support the war. Other characters that oppose the war will fare better, because they align with the authorial physics of the setting. Is it a bit heavy-handed? It can be. The objective is to write it in a way that doesn’t feel forced.

Progress Report: Day 13

  • Today is day 13 of 90 on my journey to write the first draft of a novel.
  • Yesterday I wrote 658 words, bringing the total to 8,943.
  • That puts me 1,743 words ahead of my target goal, based on writing 600 words per day.
  • I’m currently working on the finale of the book.


  • It’s weird writing the final scenes of the book. I came up with what I think is a good ending. It pulls the characters together, lets them fully be who they are, and it puts a bow on the major themes running through the book. Ultimately I think that it will make it easier to write the rest of the book. I have a clearer idea of who these people are, and I know where I’m going.
  • Life is marginally better today. The seasonal affective disorder isn’t kicking as hard because we’ve had a lot of snow, and that makes the world marginally lighter and brighter. My arthritis flareup seems to have passed as well, knock wood. Less than two weeks to go until Midwinter, and the days start getting longer again.

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