I have been doing lots of research for my first novel recently and have now begun planning the plot and characters in detail. I have become unstuck a little, when prompted by some online sources, to consider the flaws of my central characters and also the character arc. These are things I have given scant consideration and to be honest, know little about.

I am writing about a teenage girl - let’s call her Navjeet - who told me about her compelling life. I have added extra details to make the story more rounded, but am concerned about whether she will take the reader on enough of a journey and show enough character development. Of course this is all new to me.

The story is based around a tyrannical father who castigates the mother for not producing a male child after many attempts (she then attempts suicide). The next phase concerns the older sister, who refuses to marry the suitor chosen by the parents and threatens suicide until the parents relent. Then the final phase concerns Navjeet, who also refuses to marry the suitor chosen for her and eventually escapes the shackles of the family and marries the husband of her choice.

My dilemma is about the central character, Navjeet. I believe that the story could be told in first person, through her eyes, but as the drama for her only comes in the final phase – what would her character arc look like throughout the whole story. And how do I create and engineer her ‘flaws’?

I’m determined not to write a single word until I’ve got this clear and believe me I’ve given it lots of thought.

Would it be better to write the story in separate parts? Then the central character of each part would actually be mum, then sister and finally Navjeet.

Or should I think of the 3 women as one character, in the sense that their combined flaw is a weakness in overcoming the father’s dominance? Then the character arc is based on separate attempts to challenge/defeat his power, ending with Navjeet who succeeds.

If I really do need to have a separate ‘flaw’ in Navjeet , the central character, I thought I could create an instance where she in some way betrays her mother/sister to the father, causing them grief in the first two parts.

Any help would be gratefully appreciated. I don’t know if writing it as a memoir would affect the technicality of character either.