A character arc is the journey between who your character is at the beginning of your story and who they are at the end. They are an essential part of any story. There are several different types of arcs and it is important to know which one your character is on to be able to plot and craft your story successfully. I have put together some articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos that explain the types of character arcs and how to use them in your stories.
Masterclass explains four types of character arcs and demonstrates them with examples. The article also gives tips on how to write a captivating character arc.
This article tells us that character evolution is at the heart of any good story. Character arcs are ultimately the whole point of fiction. The change – the journey from one spiritual / emotional/ intellectual place to another – is the story of humanity. It describes positive arcs, flat arcs, and negative arcs, explaining what might happen in each of the three acts of a story with each arc. There are also links to other articles with beat sheets for character arcs.
Jerry Jenkins begins this article by explaining the different character arcs, complete with examples, before moving on to guide you in creating a powerful character arc by considering ten questions. What does your character want or need, and why? What inner struggles keep him from achieving his ultimate goal? What will he do to accomplish his goals? A worksheet on developing your character arc is available to download.
This article shares a character arc template that uses 5 steps: 1. Find your character’s first goal. 2. Brainstorm help and hindrances. 3. Find a point of no return. 4. Plot growth and change. 5. Bring external and internal conflicts to a head. All of these points are explained simply.
Self-publishing school explains the difference between the character arc and a plot arc, and breaks down the character arc into change, growth, and fall arc. It shares 4 questions to ask yourself before beginning your character’s arc: Who are they? What do they need or want? What are the obstacles? How will they change? This article also suggests a great writing exercise whereby you put your character into scenarios outside of your book’s world and see how they react. It gives ten examples of scenarios.
This article explains how the character arc comprises three points: the goal, the lie, and the truth. Both the positive change arc and the negative contain the same three basic elements. The Hobbit, A Christmas Carol, The Great Gatsby, and Breaking Bad are used as examples to show the arc in action.
Writer’s edit looks at the 3 main types of character arcs: change/transformation, growth, and fall, and discusses how to write one effectively, creating characters that truly resonate with readers. It demonstrates with examples from fiction and TV.
This podcast discusses 3 types of character arcs and how to recognise and craft each type. It explains how change occurs in a flat arc, how to fix a story with no character arc, and discusses why a no story arc can work.
In this podcast, Kristen discusses things to consider when plotting your positive character arc. She says that we can map this transformation out over the course of ten beats. This structure is nearly universal across positive arcs, and Kristen explains each beat.
Another podcast from Well Storied. This one focuses on questions you should consider when planning the negative character arc and, once you’ve established the elements at the heart of your character arc, you can begin mapping the beats that will define your character’s journey. She explains each beat and how they can apply to your story.
This video from Jenna Moreci tells you what fundamental mistakes to avoid when planning your character arc.
This episode is all about character arcs and why you need them for a better plot, more conflict, and a great novel and story.
Character arcs are all to do with change, whether within themselves or the world around them. The steps to create each character’s arc help to make your characters interesting and believable, and are well worth the time and thought they take. I hope you have found this week’s column helpful. If you have any topics, you would like me to cover, please get in touch.
(c) Lucy O’Callaghan