Theme-Character Integration Part 5
Fame And Glory: When You're Rich They Think You Really Know
by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Theodore Bikel, my favorite actor (Worf's human father on Star Trek), singer, raconteur, did an album a long time ago with a song from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (he played Tevye on Broadway and toured it for years).
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QQZQNY/ 99cents for that single song
There's a line in "If I Were A Rich Man" -- "when you're rich, they think you really know!"
That is a wondrous song that captures the depths of human psychology, line after line.
It looks at being rich from a poor man's perspective, but not a poor man powered by greed, avarice, jealousy or resentment of those who are rich.
The song is really about what stops us from great achievements, and what keeps us going toward great achievements which we sometimes achieve!
Would it ruin some "Master Plan" if I were a rich man? The assumption is that riches "just happen" -- that there is no fundamental difference between a person who happens to be rich, and a person who just happens to be poor. What kind of strength of character does it take to look at the world that way, when you just happen to be poor?
So today we're going to use Point of View to talk about Strength of Character as a thematic element in the episodic novel (or series) Springboard.
Here are some previous posts on the Springboard construction:
In Part 3 of this series,
we started sketching topics relevant to constructing an Episodic Plot.
We will return to the Springboards series with a Part 5 on Zombies and a Part 6 on Earning a Sobriquet. But first we pick up the issue of Springboard Construction for a long series of novels by delving deeper into issues of Theme-Character Integration.
There was a TV show a while back titled FAME. And that was the theme of the series -- all about a special High School teaching performers the skills to achieve fame on the stage.
The Klingons in Star Trek embodied WAR IS GLORIOUS as a theme.
"Fame" and "Glory" often equal "Riches" in the minds of Characters who do not have these traits. Notice Tevye only yearned for "a small fortune."
The starry-eyed attraction toward "fame" (or local popularity) and the sense of achieving something "glorious" (e.g. something that goes viral on YouTube), are deep human responses that are laced with raw thematic material writers can use with wondrous results.
I had a quick exchange on Twitter a few months ago with Rex Sikes and Becket Adams
Rex Sikes' Movie Beat conversations w filmmakers Inet radio show, website & blog - subscribe to podcast actor/producer/director/ filmmaker & interview host
And Becket Adams bio:
Business writer @theblaze. Opinions are my own. Re-tweets because they're funny, foolish, or newsworthy. email@example.com
BecketAdams 9:02am via Web
Pro tip: Just because someone famous and/or inspirational said it doesn't mean it's wise or true.
RexSikesMovieBT 9:04am via TweetDeck
How2 get your movie funded @FlywayFilmFest @Trigonis "it's bout who you R (who r you?) becuz people give2 people not2 projects"
JLichtenberg 9:04am via HootSuite
@BecketAdams Agreed, one should not idolize the famous. Just because you're rich doesn't mean you REALLY KNOW!
JLichtenberg 9:06am via HootSuite
@RexSikesMovieBT It's a combo! "who you R" = "what project U choose" = "what ppl you know who know U" = "FUNDING INVESTED IN U"
JLichtenberg 9:09am via HootSuite
@RexSikesMovieBT "Who U R" = Keeping Ur Word = delivering ON TIME = No gossip, bad-mouthing others, or Put-Downs. Character is a MUSCLE
And after a couple minutes, @RexSikesMovieBT answered me, so I Retweeted.
JLichtenberg 9:25am via HootSuite
RT @RexSikesMovieBT: @JLichtenberg very wise words you share! ==> THANK YOU!
Somewhat later RexSikesMovieBT answered:
I am quoting speaker in my tweets.RT @JLichtenberg: @BecketAdams @RexSikesMovieBT Excerpted Ur tweets on getting movie funded…
-----------end twitter exchange----------
Which praise got me to thinking. Most people just preen themselves when praised, or maybe get shy and crawl under a rock.
Me? I THINK -- I dissect and analyze what I said, what that praising person thought I said, why they thought that, why I said what I said just that way and not another way, and how the exchange created a "stirring in The Force" as they say.
It is often said men consider thinking about emotion to be anathema, a horror to be avoided at all costs, and a sure sign of a lack of strong character. Only WOMEN think about feelings -- and only women talk about feelings, articulate emotions "on the nose."
That's certainly true in our current culture.
But is it a universal truth about humankind?
After all, we have the whole Book of Psalms which has been preserved and is read regularly to this day -- and it is mostly poetry about feelings written mostly by men (I can't prove only by men, but the attributions are all to men, mostly King David.)
Being a science fiction writer by trade, I generally come to "but is it a universal human trait" with the immediate backlash of, "what would non-humans for whom it is a universal trait create for a culture?" Or what if they didn't have that trait at all?
That's how Gene Roddenberry (as I learned while interviewing GR and the actors and crew of Star Trek (ToS) for the Bantam Paperback STAR TREK LIVES!) arrived at the concept "Vulcans" and why Gene fought to have Spock retained, combining "Number One" (the unemotional female first officer) with Spock-half-Vulcan-science-officer character, who turned out to be the source of SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE as a genre.
Yes, the first human/alien romances were Star Trek Fan Fiction -- the first Christian SFR (written by a Reverend's wife!) is posted for free reading on simegen.com:
It is Star Trek fan fiction about a Romance with Spock involving a Christian woman who is a very devoted and sincere Christian -- so the conflict is inherent in the situation. The work abounds with deep themes. And it's well crafted, easy reading.
SFR and romance novels in general are really about character.
One of the signature expressions of "character" is the way people respond to "Fame and Glory" (Spock is a great example of both) -- either by being famous and preening under yes-men praise and fawning-fans, or by lusting after the Glory of Fame from a low-self-esteem position. Hence the Spock character became the center of many "Mary Sue" stories.
Part of the appeal of Romance to the very young teen girl is the aura of "what it will feel like to have HIS attention on ME." Awakening sexual awareness is all about very greedy attention-grabbing. Hold that thought. We'll get back to greed at the end of this blog entry.
Attention-grabbing is the core of fame. It is also the core of the High School yearning for "popularity."
"Glory" is often seen as the pre-requisite to Fame. The HS Football Star's girlfriend, for example.
Being voted "Most Popular" in High School, it turns out, is not the key to success in the rest of life. But during the High School years, popularity is often seen the only way to success in life.
Likewise, in college -- being the Party Guest Of The Year is not the key to success that can substitute for actually learning how to think, and how to teach yourself anything you subsequently need or want to know.
Fame does not mean you really KNOW!!!
The only ones who think that fame means you really know are those who are not famous.
Do you see the subject we're circling around here?
It is the simple thesis I've been harping on in these blogs.
CONFLICT IS THE ESSENCE OF STORY
And a whole lot of "conflict" that generates story-movement is all about Point Of View.
The famous look at the world from one point of view; the non-famous see it all from a different point of view.
Likewise with riches, with real expertise, with age, with wisdom, with disability due to injury, with disability due to birth defects, etc etc -- each of these points of view provide different perspectives which, when pitted against each other, create conflict that causes the characters to change.
Story is the sequence of lessons learned by the main character whose story you are telling, the lessons that are mileposts along that character's arc. "Story" means how that character changed his point of view.
The plot is the sequence of events that happen TO the character who internalizes a lesson from that event.
The main character does something on page 1 -- makes a decision, parses a problem and sets a goal, evaluates a character and decides to invest in that character's project, or tries to get others to invest in their own project.
How is Romance related to investing?
Romance is related to investing via the investment that one makes in the Significant Other -- the Soul Mate.
Soul Mating is all about joining two into one -- just like merging a business.
To make the joint-venture profitable, both firms must eliminate the overlapping and duplicated departments (secretarial pool, rented space in the cloud).
In the case of Romance, it can be the renting of two apartments that has to be eliminated. It used to be that record collections and book collections would be merged, discarding duplicates -- with iTunes and e-books, that isn't how it's done anymore. Today it's more about cancelling duplicate ISP accounts.
Once joined, the Soul Mates each "lack" something ( look up "packing fraction" in atomic physics -- the energy an atomic nucleus does not have because it was emitted when the components joined to create that nucleus.) In a Romance, the packing-fraction would be the discarded duplicate DVD, book, or ISP account, the extra square-footage rented, etc.
Now look again at Star Trek.
Gene Roddenberry joined two characters into one, in order to get his show on the air, in order to appease the Network which refused to risk money on a show that put a woman in command of men on a bridge crew.
GR had to discard either Spock or Number One (by making her male), and chose the non-human crew member to speak of how humans look from the outside.
Science Fiction is all about Point of View from inside a Character. Crafting and expressing that Point of View requires clarity of a theme wholly integrated into (married to) a character.
To do that, Gene Roddenberry lost the avante guarde thrust into a feminist culture that he wanted Trek to be. He got it back with the first inter-racial kiss on TV, Kirk and Uhura, but when he made this decision to drop Number One, he didn't know he'd be able to pull that off.
So Uhura got lines like, "I'm scared, Captain." But the show got on the air.
Gene Roddenberry (and quite a few others) got fairly rich from it all -- a "small fortune." He got rich because "they" invested in him, not in Trek.
Does that mean the Rich Really Know? Does that mean GR really knew?
Well, he did become famous, too, so obviously that means he really knew, right?
Think about it. THINK-THINK-THINK.
Combining Number One and Spock drove human male Characters on the show to speaking about emotion, out-loud on TV. What a concept!
I knew Roddenberry -- spoke with him in private, personally, recorded and transcribed interviews with him, studied what he said and excerpted it for the book STAR TREK LIVES! (all this while writing Sime~Gen Novels, too).
So during this twitter exchange cited above, my thoughts went from considering why people invest in getting movies made (usually via Kickstarter) -- to the idea that they are investing in YOU, in the person not the project, to why "they" invested in Roddenberry. He was, at that time, a known Character -- it was only the Idea that was crazy-nuts-ridiculous. They invested in him, not Trek.
*I*N*V*E*S*T*I*N*G* in YOU -- wow.
It is not the project but YOU that gets the investment. How very personal that makes all business -- just like romance gets really, intimately, personal.
OK, person not project. Hmmm. And Conflict is the Essence of Story as well as of Plot.
If you want to understand the world, you have to "follow the money."
So in your novel that you are writing, you depict how investment money (or emotion) flows to the Character not the Project that the Character is launching.
Remember that THEME is the glue that holds the entire artistic composition of a novel, TV screenplay, Series, Feature Film, -- any fictional work -- together.
That's why SAVE THE CAT! emphasizes the necessity of getting that "Theme Stated Beat" just right.
I happened to have been watching the fall, 2013 first episode of the season of ONCE UPON A TIME just before engaging in that twitter exchange, and I had noted how (once again) this show delivered a picture-perfect THEME STATED BEAT.
At this moment, I don't remember what that theme was -- I just remember how that beat leaped out at me in vivid technicolor as being just, absolutely, p*e*r*f*e*c*t*l*y executed.
And that perfection came from the construction of the characters.
Consider that each of the characters in ONCE UPON A TIME is "famous" in their own right -- from the fairy tale characters they are based upon. Some of them are "rich" too.
When you're rich, they think you really know.
So with all of this sizzling around in my head, I got into a conversation with a professional writer in a chatroom between tweets in that twitter exchange.
The conversation was about "life, the universe, and everything" -- A.K.A. "what's wrong with this world?" I mean what else do professional writers talk about in off moments in private? It went from current political campaign maneuvers to assisted living facilities to water quality control to building new bridges and infrastructure, all the way to G-d Himself.
During that chatroom exchange I got onto one of my hobbyhorses -- CHARACTER.
We follow fictional characters episode after episode because of the story of the characters -- not because of the PLOT.
It is the character arc that intrigues us.
During the years of ST:ToS, series characters were not allowed to "arc" -- because the shows had to be viewable in any order to qualify for syndication and thus be worth the cost of production.
But fans wouldn't accept that "anthology" structure. Fans wanted to follow the characters through life-changes -- such as finding true love. So they wrote and shared their own Trek stories.
For fans, aired-Trek was just the springboard for the stories they shared.
Here is a non-fiction book about the development of Fan Fiction. I have an essay in here, as does Rachel Caine, author of the best-selling Morganville Vampires series.
A "springboard" -- like a diving board -- must flex under the weight of the character, then "spring" upward to hurl the character into the arc.
The board must not break at the bottom of the flex. What gives your story springboard that flexibility and strength to support the weight of the character is theme.
Fame and Glory Makes "them" Think You Really Know so "they" invest in you rather than your project
That is a concept replete with strong and flexible thematic material.
So as I was tweeting, I found myself in this chat room expounding on a thesis -- a point that seems to be escaping notice by the general public, and is therefore a theme to generate a Best Seller.
Fame, Glory, Riches are tools. Who is the tool user?
Your characters are tool-users, just like real people. Sometimes a Character gets used, as if he/she were a tool. They invest in you, not your project. That's how politicians get "chosen" by the financial backers to be "groomed" for office. The money gets invested in grooming the politician's image, not in what the politician stands for, not his personal hobby-horse, not his project but in him.
Lots of really great books and films have spoken on themes such as The Hollywood Producer who says, "I will make you a star!"
Here is the gist of the micro-essays I hammered out between the tweets cited at the top of this entry.
------edited transcript of chatroom discussion ------------
ME 9:46 am
...yes, I object strongly to high-density populations -- VERY strongly. Humans are not built for that. It ruins all sense of morality. (previously cited studies on rats over-crowded turning violent)
But schools are AWFUL EVERYWHERE -- graph historical deterioration against growth of Fed Dept of Ed.
SHE 9:47 am
The people who were running for school board were against diverting all the tax payer money to the private schools which is stripping the public schools of all the arts and sports programs.
No music, no art, no sports of any sort, not school plays, no concerts.
ME 9:48 am
I'm against arts and sports programs in public schools -- flat against.
COERCION AND BULLYING ARE WRONG
And that's what "sports" has become. No such thing as "sportsmanship" any more. Public School sports programs do not build character as they once did. Sports was all about character building; now it's about winning, not about how you play the game, or behave toward the loser. Nobody loses, so no character building happens.
ME 9:50 am
Art used to be about character building (the shows I love are about STRENGTH OF CHARACTER IS REQUIRED FOR SUCCESS) -- today Fed money supports pub school arts programs that prevent art from expressing necessity to be a STRONG CHARACTER (kids now think "strong" means bulging muscles gained by taking pills).
"Art" used to be taught as a method of displaying poetic justice abroad in the world. Those who adhered to the highest moral standards would win in the end.
That was THEN -- this is NOW.
Things have changed.
SHE 9:51 am
It's still wrong to strip the public schools of these programs just to send a few other kids to special ed classes.
ME 9:52 am
If you make it a fight over money -- bullies win by crying "You victimized me."
WATCH for the victim mentality and how passive-agressives play the victim card to mask the fact they are bullies.
THE LESS MONEY THEY CONTROL THE MORE HONEST THEY WILL BE -- control of large amounts of money you didn't make by your own sweat tests character, and it is character that our society is lacking right now.
------pause chatroom transcript--------------
I was thinking about Tevye's lack of envy and jealousy, about his unconscious assumption that money was not a limited resource, that if he had a small fortune it didn't mean others in the town would have less. "Would it upset some master plan?" he asks. In his world, sending some kids to special ed would not mean "stripping the public schools of programs." Tevye didn't live in an Aristotelian, zero-sum-game world. Is Tevye a "strong character?"
Remember, we're chasing what it is about "story" that creates "interesting." Is it in the point of view?
We are looking into the story-element "character" and pondering the adage "follow the money" to understand why investors invest in the person, not the project (and how that can make for interesting episodic story-structures.)
Some investors may have decided that strength of character is the signature of a person who will be able to bring a project to successful (profitable) conclusion. Gene Roddenberry was definitely seen as having strength of character.
Other investors may be looking for a "weak character" who can be manipulated and bamboozled into doing the investor's bidding.
The twitter exchange above indicates publishers invest in you more than in your novel.
Do you have the "strength of character" to imbue your fictional characters with strength?
Can you show-don't-tell character strength?
Can you increase or decrease a fictional character's strength during that character's arc, and pace that change in such a way as to interest your audience?
The essence of story is character while the essence of plot is conflict.
In this chatscript, I expressed a point of view about the world around us as suffering from a gradual weakening of "strength of character." If that's true, what does that mean to publishers looking to profit by investing in you, the writer, rather than in your book?
Entertainment that is intrinsically interesting to the greatest number of people, entertainment with "reach," is (today; not in ST:ToS's market) entertainment structured around Character Arc.
Character Arc used to be only growth of characters toward a stronger moral or ethical fiber, an increasing ability to handle large amounts of power over others and not wimp out on choosing "the right course of action" over the "expedient course of action" or the popular course, or the profitable course.
The advent of the anti-hero has led to popularity of a character arc that traces the devolution of character.
A great example of that is Laurell K. Hamilton's Vampire Series about Anita Blake.
Up to #22 in that series now:
I think that anti-hero character devolution trend has bottomed out and we're turning a corner.
I see that turning in the evolution of the Vampire Romance -- the Vampire once represented the epitome of seductive Evil, and has been transformed by Romance fans into a hero returning from the pits of hell to be a staunch advocate of morality (at least to the extent of not-killing his lovers).
The Sexy Vampire Hero is so interesting to me for how he resists temptation (for blood). Resisting temptation is a measure of strength of character. The Anita Blake Series describes giving in to temptation as the only sane course.
-------Back to chatroom discussion where I'm talking to a professional writer -----------
ME 9:55 am
You are intrepid -- and you don't see all that's happening around you because you are a person of very strong character.
You would not be challenged by being handed control of billions of dollars -- you don't understand the kind of challenge others face when in that position because you are such a GOOD person, down to the core. They are good people, too -- and you recognize yourself in them -- but fail to comprehend where exactly they are weak that you are strong.
SHE 9:57 am
I guess that's true. When I fantasize about winning the lottery my first thought is all the swimming pools I'm going to fund for the Town, the half-way houses....
ME 9:58 am
OK, so you see what I mean. Watch for it -- it is subtle, but devastating. And the origin is at the point where the Fed d of ed deleted the teaching of GEOMETRY PROOFS from HS.
They just lately promulgated an actual prohibition on teaching geometry proofs in that Core thing they're beating down people's throats. That core thing rewrites history -- in ways only you would see -- considering that praise from your former HS History Teacher.
SHE 10:00 am
Actually, I see in the candidates they put up for office how they have no understanding of how things work.
I don't mean politics either.
They don't understand the difference between a law and a regulation. The don't understand what jurisdictions are.
ME 10:01 am
Yes, law vs reg -- YES!
Also I watch a lot of shows about grifters and rackets -- watch for those tactics being used on voters and then the voters do not see it even though they watch the same TV shows.
SHE 10:02 am
I was at a forum where they're asking businesses to discuss outdated and duplicating regulations, ones that cause more harm than good.
But none of these people spoke about regulations, only laws.
They had no idea about the difference.
These people are running businesses.
Also, I'm sitting there and I'm thinking, "well, that's a good law because it does standardize certain safety measures and make things easier."
But, THEY consider it too much paperwork.
It really is nuts. One good thing that came down from, actually I think it was Obama, was that there had to be a country wide standard of chain of command for first responders.
ME 10:03 am
'REGS THAT DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD' -- don't confuse the tool with the tool-user when examining the source of a result.
"Guns don't kill people -- people do" "videogames don't make children into criminals" and 'regulations don't cause the harm - it is the regulation creators and users who do the harm' -- PEOPLE DO THE HARM NOT THE TOOL THEY USE.
That's a principle - a theme - in TV shows about grifters and rackets.
Grifters can only manipulate Marks who haven't the strength of character to ignore their own Greed. Protection Racket uses the Greed for Safety to manipulate Marks by arousing fear. The Mark's Greed is the tool the Grifter uses. You can't eliminate Greed from human nature. That tool is always there for grifters to use. It's the grifter that does the harm, not the Greed.
That's related to what I was saying about CHARACTER. It's people of weak character who shoot people, become criminals because of their chosen entertainment, waste themselves on the internet, or bully others on Facebook. Facebook is a tool -- IT IS THE TOOL USER WHO DOES THE HARM, not the tool. A rock can make a meditation garden restful or that same rock can be a weapon to murder someone with or drop off an overpass onto a car. You can't eliminate harmful behavior by eliminating tools like guns. The one bent on harm will pick up a rock, which can be even more deadly.
SHE 10:06 am
The Chain of Command Reg is so that CAPTAIN, means the same level of authority and responsibility throughout the country.
When firemen from New York go to help out in New Mexico and someone says, "ask the Captain," they all know exactly what they all mean.
ME 10:08 am
YES - CHAIN OF COMMAND FOR FIRST RESPONDERS -- yes, but it is the tool USER who sees that wondrous powerful tool of Chain of Command and decides to use it for harm (maybe because they don't see the harm but just the personal gain).
"Too much paperwork" complaint is because the weak character of the people involved in a long chain of command makes the whole chain REQUIRE SUPERVISION. They aren't individuals who operate on individual judgement calls made on the spot. Ordinary, normal people aren't considered smart enough to act on personal recognizance and take the consequences of their actions. All decision-making must be centralized and "accountable" to others -- no individual judgement allowed. If we'd done that in WWII, we'd have lost.
Today people think personal, on the spot, judgement calls must be eradicated because of the "danger" that the judgement call won't be correct and the person who made that call (or their supervisor) will be legally liable. In a world where kids are raised to have increasingly strong characters throughout life, they automatically mature to make correct judgement calls (mostly) no matter how fast-moving events may be.
Developing strong judgement is the main side effect of developing strong character. Since we have deteriorating strength of character, we think it's better to have "tight supervision" and "chains of command" (long ones) so responsibility can be escaped as long as you don't act on your own judgement.
Once supervision is in place, then the "power-seekers" (who are always of weak character) will flock to the control point of central command and use those regulations to DO HARM (whether they realize what they are doing is harm, or not). We appoint certain people to become Users of the Tools that we make others into -- but those "power-seekers" are not of stronger character than the "tools" they are appointed to use.
An entire chain-of-command composed of individuals of weak character will not perform nearly as well as a single individual of strong character -- e.g. a Hero.
The source of all the problems making headlines (I'm seeing hot novel-topics all over the place!) today that all seem unrelated to one another is WEAK CHARACTER.
Don't blame the tool (gun, Law, Regulation, or Bible) for the tool user's bad judgement stemming from weak character.
So the character trait that you can base a long, interesting episodic series upon lies within that element quoted in the song from FIDDLER - "when you're rich, they think you really know."
Fame, Glory, Riches
Those of "weak character" look upon those traits as something to be desired, something which can solve all their problems, alleviate their emotional pain (about which they will not speak because it's an emotion).
Those of "strong character" look upon those traits as undesirable because they cause more problems than they solve.
Today's audiences seem to want their fiction to solve all problems without the agony of increasing character strength (that teen-angst-agony used to be called Growing Pains).
The solution to most problems that avoids all Growing Pains, or character Arc, avoids all strengthening of character, is violence -- sometimes substituted for by sex.
Only those of weak character "...kill only when I have to."
Those of strong character don't kill because they never "have to."
Create a Hero and an Adversary -- imbue one with a strong character and one with a weak character -- then convince your reader that each one has a "project" they want the other to "invest in" which is "right" and "righteous."
Pit them against each other, let the explosion blow apart and reassemble each of the characters -- let the characters ARC, each becoming stronger in character and thus less prone to use force (of law, regulation, grifter-trickery, or backup Authority such as Religion) to get the other to do what they want. Get the characters to "invest" in each other (that's the core of the Buddy Story from Save The Cat!).
Relationships between Lovers who happen to become Buddies are the essence of the kind of Springboard that can propel an episodic plot.
If you want a model for this, check out the TV Series Suits,
and look carefully at the characters of Jessica and Harvey and their Relationship. I think of Mike Ross as the Star of this show, but he doesn't have a love-relationship with his prime Adversary. Louis Litt, however, just may be the mirror of the Harvey/Jessica relationship. Look at the "strength" depicted in Harvey (who now has an old love-relationship returning to his life), and watch how he mentors Mike into similar strength -- how he clashes and meshes on values.
Study that show for the almost-but-not-quite tease in these Relationships.
Watch all the shows in close order to capture the "off-the-nose" discourse on ethics and values -- stating the ideal, then not-quite living up to it, then taking the consequences of that failure.
You might want to do a contrast/compare study between Suits and The Incredible Hulk TV series
In HULK, the Hero and the Adversary are the same person.
Some of the episodes were written by my Facebook friend, Allan Cole, and he has told that story in "My Hollywood Misadventures" which is now in paper, e-book and audiobook:
If you can trace the character arcs in your own story in a way that reveals the Poetic Justice behind all the events of Life, The Universe, And Everything -- it is very likely that the publishers you submit the story to will view you as a Strong Character worth investing in.
Your strength will be revealed in the path, the dynamic arc, of your characters because the characters will be fully integrated into the theme.
For a book editor, "investing in you" can mean sending you a contract, then sending you rewrite orders. The editor will consider that the investment has paid off if you send back a rewritten manuscript that now comes up to the publisher's specs. Profit comes when the product actually markets easily.