Monday, December 17, 2012

Writing Character Arcs?

I’ve been re-read-skimming the Liaden Universe novels, as I tend to do when I’m out of romances. And while I think that the characters have “arcs” they also have… character. And in a sense I think that character is impervious to arc.

Or something like that.

My husband was talking about Tenchi and how he likes Tenchi so much and I suggested that Tenchi’s super-power was attracting all the most powerful female destructiveness in the universe to himself and neutralizing it (they all fall in love with him… guy’s got a harem.) My husband disagreed and said that Tenchi’s “power” was that he always did the honorable thing. Always. And I realized that this was also the case in the Liaden books. The characters aren't perfect, but they have character and care for honor and when push comes to shove there is no question, not even hesitation, they are compelled.

And I think that, as flawed as Miles Vorkosigan is, that this is also the character dynamic in those books and for Aral and Cordelia and even Ivan. Do they have a character arc? I don’t know that they do. Stuff happens and people do grow, I suppose, but that’s because life happens to them and their circumstances change but *they* are the same person with the same essential values at the heart, as they were before. Ivan, with his survival plan of being not-a-threat, has a core loyalty as profound as Miles has, no question and no hesitation.

 Perhaps sometimes character, like magic, requires a cost… not an arc.

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