Character Arc or Character Development
By John Woolard
February 24, 2018 11:32pm CST
One of the most important factor in a character driven story is arc or development. A character arc is the transformation or inner journey of a character over the course of a story. If a character does not change because of the events that occur in the story it essentially becomes boring and unbelievable to the reader. Even tiny events changes a character in some way. Though these lessons are mostly for fiction this does not mean some of your time will not be dedicated to research. Character arc is one of these places you may find yourself researching. You have created a character complete with personality traits then something happens in your story? How does it change your character? By researching how similar events really change people you make a character more relatable and believable. A great example of this is you introduce a main character and his family then your pivotal point is a car crash that kills the lead character's family. By researching the five stages of grief and loss you can actually drive your story's plot by controlling when the character moves through the stages. Each stage can actually add a dynamic to your story where whatever stage they are in actually dictates the story's path. Now what instead you added that the character was the one driving the car does this add the psychosis of survivor's guilt or self-blame? By researching all the possible ways a character can react can help narrow the narrative on how they got there. Now the most important thing in a character arc is how the character is different at the end of a story compared to the beginning. A reader needs to see the logic on why a character is now who they are and that they are a different person. Did the protagonist mature and grow or find resolve? Did the antagonist find remorse or become more vengeful setting up for a sequel? Something else to keep in mind is the location can also contribute to a character's development. People who are exhausted and sweaty become angry easier. People who are freezing react slower. In reality if it is in your story it is effecting one or more character. An easy way to help with character development and arc is creating a detailed statistical list of the character and create a full backstory even if these things never make it into your story you had them in your mind as you write so the character will be fuller and more believable.
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