So, what is a character-arc? The simplest way to describe the arc of a character is how your central character changes throughout your story. If your character didn’t change, you’d not a have a story and your character would be as boring as a cardboard cutout.
How a character change is pivotal for a forward going story, and it encourages the reader to want to know more. The usual type of character-arc is when a conventional, everyday person gets a call to action, a problem to solve or a life to save. They usually hesitate at first, not confident they could help, and will often end up refusing to get involved. But, then heigh-ho! A mentor or somebody who understands your character will assist them to understand how vital the call to action is, and that they, and on then, can bring about change – for the good of whoever or what is in trouble.
They either meet all the challenges head-on, through numerous trials and errors eventually or if your story doesn’t have a happy ending they could die to try. Their hero/heroine status is established as they return from the brink of disaster or die to prevent a catastrophe.
Other Character-Arc Changes
Not every story contains adventures with good and bad characters fighting to the death. Depending on your chosen genre your character-arc it’s not just the good characters who change by the end of the story. The antagonist could change by turning their lives around and become a law-abiding citizen. Or their evil intent could intensify causing more damage.
We should remember not all characters will change. Instead, your protagonist may grow in some way that will change themselves or somebody else’s life.
A shift arc is where the protagonist shifts their opinion or perspective about certain circumstances, problems or a group of people.
The Negative Arc
The main character fails and is doomed to possible death. The character doesn’t have a chance to grow out of their faults. But instead ends up worse off at the end of the story that he was at the beginning. A Negative-arc is crucially a Changed-arc turned upside-down.
How Can You Create a Character-Arc?
You need to decide which character-arc you want to use in your story, and it may be helpful to ask yourself the three following questions:
- Who your main character is at the start of the story, and what are they like?
- Then you must decide you want your character to end up like at the end of your story?
- The most important question is what needs to happen to make the changes happen?
From Start To Finish
Having the knowledge of where the protagonist starts from and where you intend them to be by the resolution of the tale will influence the character arc you choose.
Don’t forget that story arc and the character arc are decisively intertwined. At each plot point in your story arc will help your character either change or grow. And your character’s growth will dictate how they will respond to each new point in the plot. These two facets of writing will work in unison to move the protagonist to the climax of the story.
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