Welcome to another edition of Physiology of the Writer. In this article we’ll be discussing the effectiveness of impact characters within our stories. We can liken these impact characters to something extremely prevalent and essential within our own bodies. What is it you say? A molecular component that holds to key to life itself.
~Behold, the HUMAN ENZYME~
As I’m learning the elements of story structure, I can’t help but contrast it with the anatomy and physiology of our own human body. Enzymes are the invisible superheros of human life. I’ll give you an idea just how important these little workhorses are. Without them human life would not be exist! Our bodies would not be able to sustain the slow rate of reactions or even make life possible on the molecular or cellular level. ENZYMES ARE AWESOME LITTLE SPEED DEMONS. They’re capable of catalyzing millions of reactions per minute. They really hit the gas pedal!
ENZYME QUICK FACTS:
- Enzymes are special agent 007 biological catalysts.
- Increase the rate of reactions that make human life possible.
- Can catalyze millions of reactions per minute effecting the metabolism of cells for optimal function.
- There are approximately 75,000 enzymes within the human body.
- There are three main types of enzymes: Metabolic, Digestive and Food.
- Your story desperately needs an “enzyme” an impact character to speed up, or cause the change in your protagonist.
Great, we got that down. So what exactly is an impact character anyway? Well, we pretty much know the protagonist desperately wants something. That something faces major opposition otherwise the story would flatline and bored readers would die a painful death. But this opposition represents his outer conflict related to the antagonist or antagonistic forces. We all love a good old fashioned antagonist right? But if our characters are well crafted, they’ll also have an inner conflict that’ll resonate more profoundly with readers on a deeper level. If we balance the ingredients of inner and outer conflict we’ll make any story into a delicious page turner.
When there’s an ardent desire or want + hardy opposition x (an inner resistance to change) + impact character = PLOT -> a blockbuster page turner story
Are we always accepting to change with open arms? Definitely not. Neither should our protagonists. People are dead set in their ways fighting change unto the death if need be. Most of us if we’re honest are as stubborn as the hills. Just imagine your character in his or her own situation.
Our own experience tells us that basic human nature is stubborn and utterly resistant to the slightest possible change. As they say, “Old habits die hard”. This is especially true when writing a positive change arc. We tend to cling to characters in whom we see a gradual but distinct change. In the books we love, we’re taken along an elaborate journey of 300-400 pages in which we witness a fundamental change worthy of our tears, cheers, hope and laughter. But what or who, brings about this change? You guessed it. The enzymes. The impact character. The impact character is there along the story at critical times that help or even oppose the protagonist to change his ways. Something has to happen to him/her that impacts their life in such a way that changes them on a cellular level. This is the function of the impact character in your story. They are the “enzyme” that will cause your protagonist to undergo an inner conflict of what he or she believes to be true, thus shaking up their world for the better. Hopefully.
Give your story a boost by crafting an impact character within your protagonists character arc and see what happens! For further information on the subject please click the following The Impact Character: Why Every Character Arc Needs One. Without an “enzyme” in your story, there won’t be enough essential ingredients to sustain your novel the vibrant life that it needs.
Until we meet again!