Let’s Talk Bookish: Redemption Arcs

Hello and happy Friday! Today I’m going to be talking about redemption arcs, which I’m really excited for! Redemption arcs are basically when a character was a villian changes their ways and redeems themself. I’m going to talk about what I think makes up a good redemption arc, some of my favorites, and more!

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly discussion post created by Rukky @ Eternity Books and is hosted by Rukky and Dani @ A Literary Lion! This week’s topic is: Redemption arcs, suggested by Dani!

Do you like redemption arcs?

Yes. I love redemption arcs in books so, so much. They’re so fun to read (or watch), and are overall satisfying. That said, I do think that there are a lot of ways that redemption arcs can go wrong, or can be messed up.

What makes up a good redemption arc? 

Redemption arcs need to be long, and winding, and not at all straight forward. If your villain has a conversation with themself being “maybe I’m bad and should be good,” then goes over and joins the good guys: well where is the arc? It’s called a redemption arc, not a redemption straight line.

The character also needs to be changing because of themself, not because of something or someone else. If they’re changing sides because they’re in love with the enemy, that’s boring. If they slowly realize the errors in their actions and with much conflict inside of them join their former enemies, that’s interesting.

The character also needs to have depth before the redemption arc. Even if it’s just a little bit, we still need something to jump off of. Why is the character bad in the first place? What is leading the character to perform those actions? As the story moves forward and the character is slowly making their way around their redemption arc, we should be learning more and more about the character. Glimpses into the past? Wonderful. Meeting up with an old acquaintance who may or may not be on the opposing side? Always good.

Can any character be redeemed?

No, no, no, no, no. Not all characters can be redeemed. I have a few examples that I’m not going to talk about because it would lead to way to many spoilers, but I really don’t think that any character can be redeemed.

I think that many can, but there are times when characters commit unforgivable actions, and they can’t all be redeemed.

That’s not to say that the actions of the protagonists are always forgivable. Kaz Brekker is one good example of that.

But in the end, not every character can be redeemed. And although I love redemption arcs, a rushed redemption arc just isn’t that good.

What are some of your favorites?

Okay. So. There aren’t actually that many good redemption arcs that I can think of, unfortunately. But there is one redemption arc which is the best of the best, and that is Zuko’s from Avatar the Last Airbender.

And I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about his, because that would be a ton of spoilers, I am going to say that Zuko’s redemption arc has it all.

The backstory, the twists and turns, the motive for why he’s even doing anything, and the internal struggles.

Wrapping this up…

I love redemption arcs, and they are so much fun to read (and watch). But they can also be messed up, and done poorly.

So to sum up this post, redemption arcs are good, but don’t rush them and make sure you really flesh them out. If you have any questions, look at Zuko’s entire storyline and you’ll see what I mean.

Do you like redemption arcs? What are some of your favorites? Chat with me in the comments below!

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