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Redemption is a major theme in storytelling because it appeals to our deepest selves

A redemption arc is a literary term for a type of character development in which a bad

They redeem their worst sins through their actions in the story’s resolution

There are some great examples of redemption arcs in literature and media that writers can draw inspiration

A redemption arc is a story arc in which a character finds redemption for their sins, wicked

You’ve heard of the idea that punishment must fit the crime; in this case, atonement must

For example, let’s say the character with the redemption arc was an abusive parent

Just telling their child they love them once doesn’t make up for all their abuse

Or perhaps they lose their child but get a chance to raise their grandchild with love

One random act of restitution at the end of a story without any internal conflict or meaningful

In a good redemption arc, characters will undergo multiple trials or encounter others who inspire a moral

The best redemption arcs will not blindside the reader but instead leave breadcrumbs through the story, so

Sometimes, a redemption arc comes with a tragic end for that character or the story as a

Be careful with a character finding atonement “too late,” as this often feels unsatisfying and pointless to

Humans have told stories with redemption arcs for millennia, and they still resonate today

Why? What makes a story about finding redemption so appealing?

But as social beings, we all crave forgiveness, and we all want to know that people are

This is important on a personal level when we feel guilt or shame

They also give us hope for a better world when we face everyday evil in the news

The concept of restorative justice in books and media inspires readers not to give up on the

You want a satisfying, memorable character arc without being cheesy or clichéd

And most stories have character arcs that are intrinsically linked to the conflict

This means you likely already know how to make your character develop in the story

You just need to keep a few extra things in mind to make your character development redemptive

Your character needs to be flawed enough to warrant true redemption

On the other hand, if your character is truly heinous, readers may not want them to find

Nobody roots for Sauron in The Lord of the Rings to have a Grinch-like change of heart

You can give characters a tragic backstory that explains, but doesn’t excuse, their sins

Negative character traits that cause wrongdoing don’t have to be cruel or evil

For example, perhaps someone your character cared for died because your character wasn’t home

Or maybe they thought they were invincible, only for something tragic to happen

Newton’s First Law of Motion teaches that an object at rest or in motion stays that

With a redemption arc, the turning point must be poignant enough to trigger an internal shift in

Rather, the turning point should set them onto a redemption quest

This may involve making amends with other characters, or it may involve making sacrifices for the greater

When a villain has a redemption arc, the turning point is often the reveal of a greater

Use ProWritingAid’s Pacing Report to improve the pacing of your writing

It is an important aspect to keep in mind when plotting or editing your redemption arcs

Someone who caused the death of hundreds of people needs more atonement than buying a homeless person

If the scale leans heavily on the wrongdoing side, you must balance it out

First, you can make bad things happen to your character to trigger their character development

Second, you can hint at greater acts of redemption that will occur after the story ends

Maybe the person who caused hundreds of deaths buys a homeless person a coffee on their way

To do this successfully, pay special attention to showing an internal crisis and fundamental change

Be aware that this section contains some spoilers for these books, movies, and TV shows

He commits atrocities regularly, so his people appeal to the gods

Gilgamesh beats Enkidu in battle, but then they become best friends and embark on a journey together

The gods then kill Enkidu, which leaves Gilgamesh consumed with grief and a fear of death

Gilgamesh fails, but in the process, he gains understanding and morality

Ebenezer Scrooge, a moneylender, has a reputation for being cold-hearted and miserly

Scrooge’s former business partner, Marley, visits him from beyond the grave

Marley warns Scrooge that, if he doesn’t change, he is doomed to spend eternity in the

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future take Scrooge on a journey through his own life

Scrooge sees that he will die alone, and people will celebrate his demise

He’s a fair employer and becomes like a second father to the sickly Tiny Tim

The hit TV series Once Upon a Time has a great redemption arc for Regina, the Evil

They can’t remember who they are, and Regina rules as a despotic mayor

She becomes the Good Queen and saves the people she originally cursed

We see the completion of Theon’s redemption arc in the TV show Game of Thrones

Theon is a spoiled, arrogant boy who betrays his adoptive father and family to establish himself as

Theon endures horrible acts of violence and psychological torture

Then he journeys with his sister to pledge loyalty to Daenerys in her attempt to take the

Finally, he dies defending Bran Stark, the son of his adoptive father Ned, against the Night King

We’re focusing on the movie adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring for this example, but

Slowly, the appeal of the One Ring drives him to attack Frodo

He takes several arrows, and as he dies, accepts Aragorn as his king

Redemption arcs can occur even in funny kids’ movies, and Gru is a great example

Gru is an accomplished supervillain, and he has no plans to change

Gru encounters three orphan sisters, and he adopts them with plans to use them against his nemesis

He rescues his adopted daughters from the other villain and gives up on his plan to commit

Whether you’re writing a romantic comedy, an epic fantasy, or anything in between, redemption arcs can

These stories inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves and create a better world through