Crafting a compelling character arc is like giving your character a makeover. It's not just about changing their appearance; it's about transforming who they are at their core.
In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the lessons from the book 'Creating Character Arcs' by K.M. Weiland and explore how you can use them to create a protagonist who will resonate with readers and undergo a truly satisfying transformation. From the Lie Your Character Believes to the Positive Change Arc – buckle up and get ready to give your characters the glow-up they deserve!
The Positive Change Arc
The Positive Change Arc focuses on the protagonist's shift in priorities and realization that they have been desiring the wrong thing or using the wrong moral methods. This type of arc typically involves the protagonist's growth and transformation as they learn to overcome their flaws and embrace the truth.
The protagonist's journey usually begins with a lie they believe about themselves or the world around them, which they must eventually overcome to achieve success. In the end, the protagonist should have a new perspective and outlook on life, having learned important lessons along the way.
The Lie Your Character Believes
"The Lie Your Character Believes" is a specific belief or worldview that the character holds, which they must recognize and overcome in order to grow and transform. This is a crucial element in the Positive Change Arc, and it is often a key factor in other types of character arcs as well.
The Lie is usually introduced at the beginning of the story and is tied to the character's flaws or weaknesses. Over the course of the story, the character must come to realize the truth and let go of the Lie, which allows them to achieve success and become a better version of themselves.
The Thing Your Character Wants
"The Thing Your Character Wants" is usually an external goal or desire that the character is pursuing throughout the story. This goal is typically tied to the character's Lie and is often a manifestation of their flaws or weaknesses. On the other hand, "The Thing Your Character Needs" is usually the Truth, which the character must come to realize in order to overcome their Lie and achieve success.
This realization is often nothing more than a change in perspective or a new understanding of the world around them. Both of these elements are important in crafting a character arc that resonates with readers and helps the character grow and transform over the course of the story.
The Character's Ghost
"The Character's Ghost" is a term used in character arcs to describe the reason why the character believes the Lie in the first place. It is usually a notable event in their past that has traumatized them and shaped their worldview.
The Ghost is an important element in crafting a character arc because it helps to explain why the character holds onto the Lie and why it is so difficult for them to let go of it. By confronting and overcoming the Ghost, the character can begin to move past their flaws and transform into a better version of themselves.
The Characteristic Moment
"The Characteristic Moment" is a crucial element in crafting a compelling character arc. It is the moment where you introduce your protagonist to the reader and must accomplish several tasks, such as demonstrating the prevailing aspect of their personality, showing the protagonist's scene goal, and influencing the plot. This moment sets the stage for the entire story and provides the reader with their first impression of the character.
A well-crafted Characteristic Moment can help to establish the protagonist's flaws, strengths, and motivations, which are all important in developing a character arc that resonates with readers.
The Normal World
"The Normal World" is the beginning of the story and is a symbolic representation of the character's inner world, dramatizing the Lie the Character Believes. It is the starting point for the character arc and sets the stage for the protagonist's journey.
In this phase, the reader is introduced to the protagonist's ordinary life, which is often disrupted by the inciting incident. The Normal World establishes the character's flaws and weaknesses, which must be overcome in order for the character to achieve success. This phase is crucial in crafting a compelling character arc that resonates with readers and helps the character grow and transform over the course of the story.
The First Act
"The First Act" is the initial phase of a character arc, where the protagonist's Lie is introduced and reinforced, and their potential to overcome it is indicated. It is also where the character's first step in discovering how to grow and change is provided.
In this phase, the reader is introduced to the character's Normal World, which is often disrupted by the inciting incident, setting the stage for the character's journey. This phase is crucial in developing a compelling character arc that resonates with readers and helps the character grow and transform over the course of the story.
The First Plot Point
"The First Plot Point" is a critical turning point in a story, where the setup ends and the story begins "for real." It typically occurs around 25% of the way into the story and sets the protagonist on their journey, whether they realize it or not. It is the point of no return.
The First Plot Point is often a moment of crisis or conflict that propels the story forward and raises the stakes for the protagonist. It is a crucial element in developing a compelling character arc that resonates with readers and helps the character grow and transform over the course of the story.
Creating Character Arcs
Writing a story with an exciting concept and interesting characters is hard enough, but it can be even harder to grab the attention of readers or agents.
Most writers struggle to craft realistic and compelling character arcs that fit any type of story structure. Without this understanding, stories lack depth and fail to move readers emotionally.
Unlock your story’s potential today with K.M. Weiland's indispensable guide 'Creating Character Arcs'! With this guide in hand, you'll have all the tools necessary to write powerful character arcs that capture your audience's attention every time!
Overall, creating a compelling character arc involves transforming the protagonist at their core. Key elements of a character arc include the protagonist's Lie, the Thing Your Character Wants vs. Needs, the Character's Ghost, the Characteristic Moment, the Normal World, the First Act, and the First Plot Point.
By understanding these elements and using them effectively, writers can craft characters that resonate with readers and undergo satisfying transformations. Whether you're writing a novel or a screenplay, mastering the art of the character arc is essential for creating memorable and impactful stories.