One of my favourite parts of a story whether reading or writing one myself is following the arc the main characters take. I like to see their flaws, the personality traits that cause them problems, the weaknesses that make them human and the journey they take to identify these traits and conquer them. It’s a satisfying feeling at the end to know they have become the people they always had the potential to be.
The traits that make characters imperfect are the most interesting ones for me. I like reading about a gorgeous boy like most of us but I prefer him to have a weakness that makes him real. In fact, my favourite book Pride and Prejudice has it’s main characters weaknesses in the title and the story is about how they grow to recognise these and realise that their imperfections make them a perfect fit is what I love most about it.“I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit…. Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous” – Mr Darcy
I would imagine most of us have a trait that we recognise can be a weakness and can hold us back in our lives. Of course, in real life it’s harder to conquer them then it is a book when the author is pulling the strings and can finish with the story with everything all tied up in a pretty bow. Life is always messier than fiction. If my life was a book and I was the main character, the trait I’d most like to conquer would be my tendency to worry. I would love to be more laid back but instead I am constantly anxious and overanalysing things that are really a waste of my time. I stress myself out, making myself wake up at three am and running things over in my mind even though there is nothing I can actually do about them. It’s usually a complete waste of energy.
I recognise my weakness and I try to stop myself worrying over small things even though I struggle every time. I know that my tendency to worry is linked to my indecisiveness, my aversion to change, my love of planning and my impatience. I just wish it was as easy to conquer them as it is to recognise them. I’d like to think that at the end of my story I might have more of a handle on them, that I could complete my very own character arc one day. Because I know these traits make who I am and we shouldn’t try to be anyone else but we also shouldn’t let our traits hold us back or stop us from doing what we want to do.
I think that’s a point of character arc – you don’t want the person to become someone different at the end of the story, you just want them to turn the traits that were weaknesses into strengths, to see them learn from their mistakes and to follow their journey to make their dreams come true.
What trait would you wish to conquer if you were a character in a story?