Writing Arcs in Story Telling

Writing Arcs in Story Telling

Character Arc and Story Arc:

Character Arc – The change of your character’s profile as the story progresses. Any good story requires at least one character to drive the plot. This character may transform into a completely different protagonist, as in a multi generational story. In that case, think of the character as someone in a relay race; they pass the baton to the next runner after living their own lifetime arc.

However you write the storyline; whether a single scene comprising minutes, or a multi-generational extravaganza, there is always a character arc. Think of the character arc as a three-act play.

The first act: Introduce your character and note the strengths within the character while making the foibles and shortcomings apparent to the reader/viewer. The entire act is spent creating a connection between your main character and the reader/viewer, giving them a reason to buy into the story.

The second act: Place your character in situations that test his/her strengths and challenge their shortcomings. The second act is where your character gains traction with the reader/viewer and becomes someone they not only relate to, but as one they grow to love or to hate. Encourage your reader/viewer to develop a relationship, either positive or negative, with your character.

The third act: Usually, the main character faces a crisis that tests his/her development throughout the second act, and usually the main character prevails, proving that the development process experienced during the story has indeed made a new person.

I once read a book in which the main character was a fire. Imagine you were writing with fire as your protagonist.

The character arc would be one of growth from nothing, to ferocity threatening everything in its path, to factors resulting in its death.

The Story Arc follows the same three-act principal.

Act one would deal with the environment that would provide the three components necessary for a fire; oxygen, heat, and fuel. The method of introducing those elements can be compelling and make for an interesting, riveting read.

Act two deals with the life of the fire and how it effects other characters in the story as it grows from miniscule to gargantuan: it could be a forest fire that chases animals or threatens the surrounding area; it could be an industrial fire that threatens a building or valuable contents of a building; it could be a house fire that threatens human life. Regardless of specificity, the fire takes on a life of its own as it grows and becomes more and more sinister.

Act three deals with the battle between a town, individual, weather or anything threatened by the fire and what happens to conquer the fire and return to life without the threat. Act three is where everything comes to its conclusion and all questions posed in the first two acts are answered.


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