The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I have character arcs on the brain lately, because I've been thinking about them for other people. At the same time I've been rereading MWT's Attolia series (in anticipation of the new book this spring). And I'm like, whoa. I'm not sure The Thief even has a character arc for the MC--at least, not a strong one. It has one for the reader, that's for sure. The Queen of Attolia certainly does, for both MCs. But The King of Attolia...I'm just over halfway through my reread and am thinking this is a book that does its own thing. I think you can divide most books and movies into three-act structure, not because it's the right way or the natural way, but just because that's how Americans tend to tell stories. You can impose the three-act structure from the outside, and almost anything looks like it fits and was planned that way. But the big old turning point of KOA is about halfway through. That big old turning point lasts for pages and chapters. Up till then, it looks to me like the main character arc (growth and change) belongs to Costis, and afterwards it mostly belongs to Eugenides. But I could be wrong. And I guess you could impose the 3-act structure anyway, and say that those pages and chapters in the middle are the second act. But that's really stretching the situation, to my mind.

All I know is that this level of complexity in combining plot and character is totally beyond me. The whole story shifts purpose in the middle of the book--it's like two different books put together. Yet everything keeps moving along. I'd give some good cash money to hear what MWT's writing process is. I suspect it's something like Louis Sachar's, because they both have that ability to combine character with plots that loop around multiple times, picking up on prior points that looked like throwaways at the time, but turn out to be keys to the story and to reader satisfaction.

I need to think why the story keeps moving along after that halfway point, with all its exciting scenes. Multiple problems are solved, characters revealed, and the book ought to end right there. But somehow the new problem that's brought to the fore doesn't let the story slack off enough to make the reader lose interest. There's no question that I was able to put the book down and go to bed, rather than staying up reading. But there's also no question that I'll pick it up again and finish it today--even though I've already read it and know what happens.

The first time I read it, I wasn't able to put it down at all.