Dec 6, 2017

The Write-A-Story Calendar Day 6: Arc-ane Knowledge

Now that you've tinkered about with the structure of your story, let's talk a bit about character arcs. Is you main character on a positive change arc, a flat arc, or maybe a negative change arc?

  • The positive arc is basically the 'hero's journey,' where the character embarks on an inner journey to become a better person (involves rejecting 'the lie she believes' and discovering a fundamental truth about herself that allows her to solve the outer conflict of the story (the plot)). You can even think of the plot as a metaphor for the character's inner journey, a handy tip I learned from reading K. M. Weiland's blog.
  • The flat arc is about a character changing the world, not herself.
  • The negative change arc, or the fall arc, has the character going from bad to worse, usually. Or from good to evil, maybe.

As with story structure, with character arcs I'll refer you to K. M. Weiland's excellent series of posts for a thorough review of the subject.

So that's one way to look at it. You could also try Chuck Wendig's method of coming up with three beats for the character, like if you were describing the Count of Monte Cristo, it might be: naive sailor -> mysterious figure without pity seeking vengeance-> lets go of vengeance and embraces mercy, man at peace with himself.

However you approach it, some kind of change is usually a good idea in a short story, or you might discover that you don't actually have a story at all, just a vignette or an essay or a mood piece.

And don't forget about the secondary characters. They could benefit from a character arc too.

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