How to Write an Arc (Corruption)

This is my second favorite arc to write (the first being redemption; still can’t get over how well Zuko was written in Avatar… but that’s a discussion for a different day)! The two are very close, however, because some of the advice I will be talking about can actually be applied to both elements. See, in my opinion, character actions are essentially the deciding factor in what kind of arc is involved.

But before you begin, ask yourself:

Who is my character? Why would they become corrupted (backstory)? What’s the incentive?

Also: how does this keep the plot moving? It could be that this corruption arc is only meant for a background character– but even so, there should be just as much emotion involved. How does it affect the main characters?

It’s also important to keep in mind the fact that if your character is going to become a lesser version of themselves (evil, brainwashed, corrupted), there should be high tension throughout the story. Something has to push them over the edge; some event or person has to cause a shift inside them. I suggest giving little hints throughout the first half of the book– little events that add up to a bigger situation eventually, which will cause the character to snap or transform into someone they would have never imagined at the beginning. Also, be sure to force the character to make tough choices because it increases suspense and only adds to their internal conflict. Bonus points if you create a character with a strong sense of identity and moral compass that leads to the downfall.

This is even more fun to write if you’re writing from their POV!

In my own book, Starless Skies and Broken Dreams, (little spoiler alert, haha), I have a character who definitely does become corrupted. It’s a symptom of outside factors– like a new environment and meeting people who are negative influences– but also the pain she feels inside. The new environment and “friend” introduce her to a new version of herself and bring out a darker side. An obsessed, oblivious, helpless side.

If you enjoy reading corruption arcs, you will like:

HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer: I have a review on this book on the blog but this is one of my FAVORITE books because of the corruption arc. Readers will fall in love with the main character… and then cry at the end…

STAR WARS by George Lucas: I feel like this is an obvious one. Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, etc. etc. In particular, you want to watch the prequels, even though they aren’t super great.

Got any other suggestions? Comment below!

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