Arcs and Stars

Created by Nancy

I’ve attended many writer workshops on characterization that led me to using the basics of astrology to create my characters in my stories.  I recently developed my own workshop on this, and just sent off an article about it to a trade magazine. I began my new project using my new process. But for reasons known only to the universe, I chose to stop the new project for a few weeks and finish an old one that I had pulled off the shelf last year to work through with my new critique partners.  The pictured inspiration booklet was made for me by one of these amazing women.

As I reviewed the manuscript this week I could see it was pretty good but missing strong conflict. There were lots of little and delightful conflicts. The Scorpio hero has some powerful and deep baggage but the Gemini heroine was too good at tap dancing around her issues. I finally realized that this story was created before I figured out my new character arc process I had only written up two weeks ago.

At the bellydance/Zumba class I attend with Jessa Slade, I told her about this and as she also uses astrology to create her characters she nodded and stated, “Physician, heal thyself.”

I already had lunch plans on Thursday with my sister Sherri, the astrologer. I showed her the graphs I’d made and she was impressed. We spent the next few hours, while shopping and dining, discussing how bad things should be for these characters. It was awesome to realize all the potentials are already woven through the plot, setting, supporting cast, and twist points. All I needed was someone able to read the charts I’d created to point out the deep conflicts.

So here’s a snapshot of my process:

Michael Hauge describes the character arc as the emotional journey from identity to essence. In astrology, the essence is the Sun Sign, the identity is the Rising Sign, and the emotions are the flavor of the Moon.

All the zodiac signs relate to one of four basic elements – earth, air, fire, and water. So I create my protagonist using a separate element to represent their Identity, Essence and Emotions. This means there is a missing element. That element will be represented with the antagonist (I write romance and both the heroine and hero are protagonist-antagonist to each other) and only by embracing this missing element is there potential for a happily-ever-after with all four elements of mother earth present and in balance at the end.

There’s more to my process but it’s an hour long workshop dealing with the age of the wound and the protective onion layer to be peeled away. But today, for me, knowing the process and putting it into practice was my lesson, and it was awesome.

About Terri Patrick
Writer of Romance and Memoir. Life is an adventure, take that journey.

6 Responses to Arcs and Stars

  1. I’ve sometimes thought how I would develop a character if I wanted to write a book. I imagined that this would develop naturally as the story developed. In every day life, as we get to know people, we gradually become aware of their character traits as they interact with us, others and circumstances. Doesn’t this also happen when writing fiction?


    • terripatrick says:

      Yes, and no. As we interact with people, it is from the point of view of our personal filters of our history, experience, talents, emotions, and more. There are often skeletons and wounds that flavor these filters as well as strengths and joys.

      What a writer needs to do to is know all character traits and trials from birth because we are all very individual. A reader will gradually become aware of the character traits through the course of the story, but a writer needs to know what they are at the end to create the events and reactions that will generate a transformation from the beginning. It’s plotting change, with purpose, and the harder a character has to fight against change, the greater the growth.

      A reader who connects with the journey of a character will benefit by experiencing the character overcoming obstacles and transforming into a stronger, happier person. What was learned during the story is now part of the filter of the reader, and why I don’t like tragedies.


    • Thanks for the explanation – I understand!


  2. Rose L says:

    I never would have thought about astrology when planning a character. Very interesting!


  3. Trish says:

    I do the same thing! I create charts on my characters. It’s enormously helpful! Scorpio is a good sign for heroes – and for villains!

    Some characters develop naturally. Others are born by C-section.


    • terripatrick says:

      Yep, had three naturally and the fourth by C-section.

      Sometimes I wonder why I worry about story when the women I birthed are too awesome for words. But I am into stories, and they chose me as their mom. My exceptional belief in love, partnership, and happily-ever-after is their due.

      Plus, I have a marvelous time in romancelandia.i’m an advocate for global comes to my daughters I really just want them to have fun and the power of who they are.r,


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