Monday, Nov 19, 2012

Developing the Character Arc

The best stories have strong character arcs. What is a character arc? A character arc is the demarcation of a character’s growth from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. This demarcation is often plotted on a graph and resembles a curved line that looks like a semi-circle. 

Why is a character arc important? A character arc is important because the more a character grows, the stronger your story will be. Your story can be filled with fast-paced action and crazy twists and turns, but unless your main character grows, your story will be flat. 

Character growth does not necessarily mean character change. For example, a character can grow in a quality she already possesses, like determination. 

How can you create and develop a strong character arc? Here are some tips: 

• Give your main character a serious problem to solve or overcome (the beginning). 

• Keep giving your main character more and more problems as she strives to overcome the original problem. 

• Show your character either changing or increasing in a quality she already possesses as she solves her problems. 

• Bring your character to a critical point of choice (climax). This is the peak point of the character arc. 

• Create a satisfactory resolution consistent with your character’s growth. 

In future articles, we’ll discuss eight specific points that can serve as a guide for creating a strong character arc.


Photo Source: Microsoft Clipart


Copyright 2010 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted or published in any way and by any means without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. Violators will be prosecuted.

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One thought on “Developing the Character Arc

  1. Hi Mary Ann –

    Thanks for a definition of the term, “character arc.” Someone should write a glossary of terms for writers. 🙂


    December 2, 2010 at 8:44 PM