When you hear the term redemption used together with the word Christian, you most often think of being saved by Christ. However, when it comes to a redemption arc in Christian novels, the word takes on a different meaning. A redemption arc is still about change and being saved, just in a different way.
The overall arc is generally one character's journey in the novel. That character can do from being bad to being good, basically. The character is often the villain of the piece, and through challenges and obstacles along the way, they redeem themselves and show that they have really changed and saved themselves. Depending on the character and what they have done, the challenges and obstacles may be very hard and involve a lot of pain and suffering. However, the character in need of redemption may only have to make amends to those whom they have hurt in order to finish their arc.
Examples of a Redemption Arc
There are all kinds of examples of redemptions arcs in popular fiction. One that most people are aware of is Darth Vader. He becomes the villain of the series, but at the end of the movie, he redeems himself through his sacrifices, specifically when he attacks the Emperor in order to save Luke. His redemption arc is short and sacrificial, but there are examples of longer arcs that last through the whole book or through a series. An example of a longer redemption arc is Edmund from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He starts out as a bully who picks on his younger sister, lies about going to Narnia, and makes a deal with the White Witch. His obstacles include dealing with the White Witch and he suffers because of his choices. His suffering brings him redemption, and he then rejoins his siblings.
Types of Redemption Arcs
While the redemption arc is fairly broad, there are more specific categories inside the larger category. For example, the sacrificial arc, which is Darth Vader's journey. There is also a failed redemption arc. That's when the character tries to redeem themselves, and either doesn't redeem themselves at all or doesn't redeem themselves fully. The character made the attempt to do it and somehow failed.
Redemption arc novels are fairly popular
because a lot of people identify with the character struggling to get their redemption and their second chance. That's why they are so common in popular fiction.