Remaining in the vein of last week's post, we're talking about how to strengthen your character's arc and why it's important. The character arc is the changes your character goes through from the beginning to the end of the novel, how they grow and learn, or change. Take a good look at your manuscript or outline. Is your character arc strong enough to help carry the novel? It should be just as strong as the plot, if not stronger, depending upon your genre. Not every genre will have such a powerful character arc and that's okay, they aren't all supposed to. But if you write character driven fiction like I do, that character better be strong.
Think of a novel you read recently that had a really good character arc. How did that character change? What about them did you like in the beginning of the novel and in the end? Readers celebrate with our characters, be it an achievement, revelation, or growth. Without those elements in our characters the reader doesn't get as attached to them and therefore doesn't care, which means they may stop reading.
To make sure your character arc is strong enough, do an arc sheet at the same time you do an outline. Map out the changes, growth, hardship, and setbacks you want your character to go through. They should end up in a completely different state than they began the novel. Not an outlining kind of person? That's okay, jot down notes about what your character is going through personally throughout the novel. Make sure you have accentuated the changes.
For more help check out this article by Writer's Digest on the subject: http://writersdigest.com/article/motivate-your-characters-like-a-pro
And my post featuring a Character Arc sheet: http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/04/working-on-outlining-and-character-arc.html