This morning as I lay in bed bargaining with myself about what could be postponed in favor of continuing to lay in bed listening to the silence, it occurred to me what a huge portion of our fictional journeys seek discovery of self.
Is that not the purpose of the character arc? We meet the character living a life under normal circumstances, like so many of us do IRL (in real life) going from one mundane task to the next: drive kid to school, office, pick up kid, get dinner on, load dishwasher, fold laundry.
Then the inciting event occurs, a crisis in that person’s life. What are all the possible things it could mean to her? She looks at it from this angle and that angle. Her mother, her husband and her best friend all give their opinions, sometimes unsolicited, sometimes unwelcomed. She mulls over what feels right and what does not. She mulls over whether she will passively accept the event or whether she will take action.
In a complex story like Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty, there are seven point-of-view characters, three married couples and a teenager, who experience the same inciting event and spend the book hashing it out. Will the marriages survive? If not, is that a good thing?
(Having been thrice married myself, I often say that the divorce WAS the happy ending.)
Once the POV character sorts out the meaning of the event and her actions in response, is she a different person leading a different life, is she the same person, or is she the same person more realized? What does the mundane look like to her after it’s all said and done.