Happy Shrove Tuesday Everybody! Enjoy your pancakes, whatever you choose to put on them!
Now, don’t panic, I’m not threatening to write you forty posts for Lent! However, I did want to take a break from talking about character design and world-building, and celebrate the season of Lent this year with a series looking at that most popular of character arches: The Redemption Arch.
We all love a good redemption arch, don’t we? I think it’s partly because it gives us all hope that no matter what mistakes we make ourselves in our lives, we can still make up for them somehow and earn forgiveness, from our friends and from the world at large.
And because this plot-line is so popular, there are many different approaches. Some of them good, some of them less so, as always.
A well-written redemption can be gripping and uplifting and nerve-wracking and soul-crushing all along the way. We get so invested in a character’s struggles as they seek to turn themselves piece by piece into a better person, and we really root for them as they stumble and pick themselves back up and keep going until finally they, and we, know that they’ve done it at last. It’s an amazing, emotional climax to a plot, and we’ve followed that character every difficult step of the way.
A poorly-written redemption is such a damp squib. I’ve experienced them, you’ve experienced them, and I think we can all agree that they are always such a disappointment. I think that redemption arches can go wrong in a different way from many other regular plot-lines, partly because there’s a moral theme as well as a narrative one that’s coming into play. And that can lead to one side or the other becoming unbalanced, leaving the reader feeling unsatisfied.
Well, for the next few weeks, we’re going to take some long, hard looks at redemption arches, good and bad, and some of the themes that come into play which separate the great from the meh. Things like restoring balance to the galaxy, or the role of tragic backstories, and even take a long, hard stare at the relationship between forgiveness and revenge.
Coming up next, we’ll tackle the first topic: what happens if the redemption arch is interrupted, and why it is a risky but interesting approach…
First time checking out the Chronicles in Creation series? Catch yourself up with the full post-list here.