It’s all about the arc, baby
Rebecca Mikkelson, Editor-in-Chief Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Welcome to our sixth and final post in our plot archetype series! Today we’re going to be talking about the feel-good plot archetype: rebirth. So what exactly is involved in this plot archetype?
What is it?
Well, rebirth can literally be a resurrection, but in general, it’s a transformation of your main character from villain to hero. The whole cast of characters wins when you have a rebirth plot because the protagonist changes themselves and their surroundings for the better. After sinking further into their vice or villainy, these characters will meet a character that reminds them of the goodness of the world and inspire them to change for the better.
How to write a rebirth plot
So how do you go about writing a rebirth plot? Well, like the other plot archetypes we’ve been talking about, there are certain steps that need to be taken in order to make it successful. So what are they?
The fall of the protagonist: Your protagonist can’t have a redemption arc without first needing to be redeemed, right? This is where it’s established that your protagonist has fallen off the righteous path and the reason why they fell.
Bad is a good color: Your character’s bad deeds have to work for them, or else why would they stay bad? This could be something like insider trading and your character getting super rich, or they killed someone to take over a kingdom and they have the world at their fingertips.
Frustration: This is where your protagonist sees that they might have done the wrong thing, but they don’t yet see how they can get out of their situation.
Nightmare: This is where your character will feel there’s absolutely no way out—there’s no changing for them; they’ve gone too far down the hole and they should just stay there.
Redemption: Remember the aforementioned character that shows them they can be better? This is where they’re really going to shine. Your protagonist is going to realize that they can change with the help of or inspiration from the helper. And they do the hard work to make amends and improve themselves to no longer be the villain.
So, where can you find plots that involve rebirth? Well, there are several different examples that we can give, so we’ll break them down into books and movies for this blog post.
A Christmas Carol is a book we’re all familiar with—especially since we’ve gotten so many movie versions of it. This is all about Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey to redemption. After a not so bright childhood with a lost love, Scrooge becomes the miser that we see from the start of the book. After he’s visited by the ghosts of the past, present, and future and sees how miserable his life is and how miserable he makes everyone else, a fire to change lights under him. He doesn’t want to die alone and unloved. So when he wakes up from his nightmare of visions, he vows to change his ways—and does. And everyone around him benefits from his new generosity, but especially the families of his workers.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a family classic that, at least in my family, is played nearly every year around or on Christmas. To be fair to the Grinch, he doesn’t really hate Christmas—he hates the people that treated him poorly. This is where the book and the movie differ slightly: Cindy Lou Who, instead of catching the Grinch in the act of stealing their Christmas feast and presents, decides to befriend the Grinch and warm his heart to the Christmas spirit by trying to get him elected as the Cheer Meister. And she almost succeeds until the town mayor proposes to the Grinch’s childhood love and the Grinch wreaks havoc on the town destroying the things around him. After being hated and derided by the villages in Whoville, the Grinch decides to take his revenge and ruin the one thing they love most: Christmas. And so he takes the villagers’ gifts and feasts and plans to get rid of them so no one can have a happy day. But come the morning, despite him stealing everything, he hears the Whos singing and realizes that Christmas isn’t just about the gifts and the feasts, but the people. And as the story goes, his heart grows three sizes and returns the gifts to the villages and they all live happily ever after.
Join us next week for an author interview with A4A author Melion Traverse about her debut novel, Exile.
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