“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
– Oscar Wilde
This is a lovely quote that suggests everyone can be redeemed. And reminds us we must watch out for that slippery slope that could end in our downfall.
But it’s particularly true when we think about the character arc in books.
Why I chose this quote
In real life, people don’t change quickly. Some people don’t change much at all. But characters do. I chose this quote because this ability for characters to develop is one of the things that makes books awesome.
Characters learn the error of their ways. They realise they don’t want to be alone. They sympathise with those doing badly – because they didn’t used to be quite so good themselves.
We can’t always see why we should care about a character who’s doing bad things. Another character, who can understand them better, often helps us understand too. Without the need for long-winded explanations or flashbacks.
As an author, I also find this quote helpful in highlighting that characters – just like real people – must be many things. All at the same time.
What this quote means to me
One of the things I love about book characters is how they make us feel we can be more. We are not only the sum of our beliefs and experiences. We can learn and change, just as they do.
But I also love the other side of this quote. That people who’ve made it to where they want to be, started somewhere else. In books, that tantalising glimpse of backstory is what keeps characters interesting. In real life, knowing that everyone has overcome obstacles is what keeps us kind.
What does this quote mean to you?
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