01 July 2020

Falling Flat

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I mentioned in my last post that I was having some health issues, but I got everything checked out and it's all good. Not really sure what was causing my head pain but it seems to have gotten better on its own. I have a few theories, including having to wear a mask for eight hours in a hot kitchen or maybe my hair is just too long. But I digress...

Getting back in to writing is still pretty difficult. I was doing a lot of editing just to be doing SOMETHING. Mostly getting rid of unnecessary and overused words. I know a big project is to rewrite Chapter 27, so I'll probably get to that soon. But the ending of the book still doesn't feel quite right. 

I've been trying to figure out character arcs. As I've learned more about them (thanks to a book we read for the IWSG book club!) I've felt that UL has more of a flat arc. I say "more of" because, well...it still doesn't feel quite right. Maybe that's part of my problem? But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

One of the main aspects of the flat arc is that the main character doesn't change, but changes the world and other people around him. This is where I think UL fits in the most (with some exceptions, but more on that in a bit). By the end of the book, Jordan is pretty much in the same spot he was in the beginning. The last line of the book really hammers that home. 

The only exception would be one of the subplots, which definitely has its own arc, and this one's positive. I guess the discord is partly coming from the idea that in the subplot, Jordan does go through changes and ends up in a better spot than the beginning of the book. I think this can still work even with a flat arc in the main plot. He's changed in some ways, ways he actually always knew he needed to change. But in some ways, he hasn't changed at all. 

I guess where I'm struggling is the idea of a character's "truth." In a flat arc, the main character already believes a truth and uses that to overcome the world's lie. My problem here is that all I can really come up with is that Jordan's truth is, "I can get whatever I want if I try hard enough/manipulate people in just the right way." The "lie" would be something like, "society has rules that need to be followed." Which isn't really a "lie," right? Or maybe in the context of this book, it is, because Jordan knows he can get around rules to get what he wants. He's a bit of an antihero, so his truth isn't going to be some righteous quest that's going to change the world, after all. 

Am I answering my own questions? Maybe I just want someone else to tell me that this actually does work. I'm going to try to map it out, either way, and see if that sparks any ideas or changes. 


  1. It sounds like a good idea to map it out and see if it works. Maybe Jordan can have a smaller personality change, like realizing he handles situations by getting angry too much or goes alone too much. If all else fails, finish the book and let a beta reader give you feedback. You could focus one of your revisions on Jordan's character ARC then and maybe quickly fix it. Most problems are fixable.

    Glad your health is okay. That's what's most important.

  2. My writer head hurts just reading all of that...

  3. I'd also suggest mapping it out. Seeing it laid out before you not surrounded by all the other stuff can really crystalize what's there or not there.

    It can be hard for people to talk about this stuff in the abstract, so if there's a writer friend you could ask to read it (even if it's unfinished), they'd be able to provide you with more specific feedback and thoughts and be a more specific sounding board for you. I did this for a friend a couple of months ago, and it's made a big difference for him because now, when we talk about things, I can reference specific characters and events, and we're able to have much more productive conversations about them. (I've been dying to read Jordan's story, so, you know, feel free to send it my way any time...)

  4. I'm glad everything checked out and nothing was wrong and you're getting back to normal.

    I'm also happy that one of our IWSG boog club reads helped you. Just as Natalie and M.J. suggested, mapping it out may help you. They also have great tips on other steps to take that I echo as well. :)

  5. It's good everything checked out, although, annoying as well. I know what it's like to have an issue and have all tests say I'm fine. That's good, but also bad because you're still left wondering why you were feeling the pain.

  6. I'm glad your head doesn't hurt so bad anymore.

    Planning out both scenarios is the best way to figure out what will work for the story.

  7. Glad your health issues have settled down Sarah. I think I would try mapping out the scenes to see if you can figure out a way through. Good luck.

  8. I think it does work. As I read it, it made sense and reminded me of something ... some story, but I can't remember it now. Anyway, I think it works! :)

  9. Glad you're feeling better. The main character needs to change in some way, but maybe it's becoming even stronger in their truth after a challenge. Here's to more creative work!

  10. Hope the health issues keep improving!
    I don't think or plot this way but... if the hero is an antihero, do the usual rules apply? I always write for uplifting/positive endings (romance writer! :)) so I'm afraid I'm not much help here!

  11. I love to see characters change in the space of a story, yet I thought Alice in Wonderland was the most wonderful book when I was a kid. Even my kids read and re-read that book. Alice is Alice for ever in her story. There's not a speck of change. Keep getting better and then stay that way. Nothing's worse than being sick.

  12. I tend to get dizzy when wearing my mask for long periods of time. I also let my hair grow for a year before getting a trim. Near the end, it gets so heavy, I get neck and head pain. Hope things continue to improve.

    Sometimes character arcs are tricky. People can learn to accept their identity or overcome certain fears or anxieties or maybe decide that society's rules aren't worth following.

  13. There's nothing wrong with the character who doesn't change, as long as the world around them is changed by his/her actions. Think of how the world has changed in your story. Whatever trait the character used to cuase that change is the "truth." Hope that helps.

  14. I'll be interested to hear how this comes out when you figure it out. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

  15. Thinking about characters and story arcs on paper (as you do here) can be a very useful way to gain insights . . . Keep writing and trusting your process and intuition about "what feels right." I found your post fascinating and am looking forward to what you discover. Hope the coming month brings you new ideas -- and no more head pain.

  16. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    Glad to hear you are doing better.
    As much as wearing masks is helping stop the spread of COVID, there are some down sides. It's tough. They give my husband headaches and I constantly feel out of breath, but when we get home, we breathe and relax well knowing we did what we could to protect ourselves and others.
    It's really cool to see how the last IWSG book club applies to your current WIP. Best of luck figuring out your characters and plot.

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  18. Interesting info on the flat arc. Sounds like you're doing well listening to your gut. As someone who had rewritten their story multiple times, and still has to rewrite it again, I know you'll figure it out!