What Is a Character Arc?
Your protagonist’s emotional and physical journey!
In literature, a character arc is the emotional and physical journey of one or more characters over the course of a story. Character arcs are generally divided into three parts: an introduction, where the reader is introduced to the protagonist; a middle with conflict; and an ending, which shows how this experience has changed our protagonist for better or worse.
A well-developed character arc will often take up most of what you would call “the meat” of your novel because it focuses on the development of your main character from beginning to end.
There are many ways you can develop your protagonist’s arc-you may want him to grow as a person, learn something about himself that changes his outlook on life, find love in unexpected places, or find redemption.
Whatever you choose, these arcs are a crucial part of what makes your protagonist feel whole and alive to readers-we need them so we not only understand their actions, but also sympathize with the struggles they endure during this quest.
Why You Need Character Arcs in your Writing and Films
Developing your protagonist’s character arc can be difficult, but it’s worth it to create complex and compelling characters that readers care about.
The character arc is such an important part of storytelling that it can make or break your novel.
You can spend all that time planning the perfect plot and setting, only to find that you’ve written yourself into a corner because there’s no room for your main character to grow through conflict.
How Character Arcs Work
Wondering how character arcs work?
1. A character arc is the change in a protagonist’s personality or beliefs over time.
This can happen in a series of books or over the course of a novel. Character arcs establish the growth of your protagonist and make them more compelling to readers because they can understand how their lives change with each challenge that comes up for our main character, as well as sympathize when hard times hit hard!
There are two parts to this change: the need and the cause.
You need a character arc for your main character to change.
Without a catalyst for this change, your protagonist will struggle to find a reason to take this journey from start to finish.
The great thing about arcs is that you can choose whether they’re internal or external. (Good example: Avatar: The Last Airbender.) You also need something that shakes up your protagonist’s world and forces him to act or introspect (depending on whether it’s an “internal” or “external” story arc.) (Good example: Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.)
The best kind of character arc is a realistic, believable one. It can be dramatic and exciting or quiet, but still evoke emotion in the reader because it feels real to them. A great way to do this would be to have your protagonist deal with some form of internal conflict that he’s been avoiding his whole life – like talking about an abusive childhood (even if not directly). This makes it easier for readers to empathize, while also establishing what’s at stake as far as obstacles go.
2. Character arcs can be either positive or negative and are often used to show the development of a main character.
There is no better way to show a character’s journey and the depths to which they will go than physical changes! Think of Frodo from LOTR, who evolved over the course of three books from a bitchy little rich boy to a hardened soldier. [Good example] You can also use this arc to turn your character upside down. Instead of becoming a better, stronger person, he might also crumble under the pressure of his struggles and become bad or even criminal. Character arcs can be about redemption as well as crashing… just make sure you know what you’re doing before you insert that arc!
A character arc should be clear and concise, but it can also show the layers of a person. A good way to do this is to alternate between past thoughts/feelings and present ones, or have different characters narrate the chapters from their point of view so readers get a closer look at who your protagonist really is…or was! And again, we come back to the old theme: make sure you know what’s going on before you throw out an idea, because if you don’t, they’ll all end up mixing together like wet paint.
3. Some examples of plot arcs are: Frodo Baggins ‘ journey from reluctance to his task of destroying the One Ring; Luke Skywalker’s transformation from naive farm boy to Jedi Knight; Katniss Everdeen’s transition from girl on fire who has had enough to woman with purpose.
4. Character arcs are extremely important and can make or break a story, they also tend to be used in series which allows you to build characters over time with each book.
There is one thing you should keep in mind when using character arcs: Try not to change your protagonist too much. This may sound like a good idea at first, but imagine Frodo suddenly being super strong and skilled when he reaches Helm’s Deep or something. It would make readers wonder why that happened without giving us enough development to do so! Character arcs give you room for growth, but it should be gradual enough that we don’t feel like we’re jumping from one end of the spectrum to the other all at once.
5. Character arcs add dimension to your story and make characters more interesting and relatable to readers.
As we said earlier, character arcs allow us (the readers) to see the development of your characters so that when something happens to them (good or bad), we can understand why they act the way they do and sympathize with them. Character arcs help us judge your protagonist based on their new personality, which is something that can either make or break the reader’s connection with them.
– Using a character arc in your story puts the reader in an immersive and engaging experience
– A well-crafted character arc can captivate the reader more than any other type of storyline
– Readers love to follow the development process of characters over time
– Telling a story from beginning to end with an interesting protagonist allows for complex plots, twists, and turns