Developing the Character Arc

by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA

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.

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Bio: Dr. MaryAnn Diorio writes riveting, compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her stories will entertain you, move you, and transform you. MaryAnn has been happily married to Dom for 46 years. They are blessed with two amazing adult daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, and five precious and rambunctious grandchildren. When she is not writing, MaryAnn loves to spend time praising and worshiping the Lord, reading, painting, and playing the piano, cello, and mandolin. You may reach her at drmaryann@maryanndioro.com.

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Copyright 2010 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, All Rights Reserved and Protected by International Copyright Law. Violators will be prosecuted.