WRITERS: What If Your Character’s Arc Doesn’t Follow the Hero’s Journey?

Keeping in the spirit of character development, let’s talk character arcs.

What is a character arc and why is it important?

An arc gives a character dimension and texture. It makes them real. Think about yourself. You aren’t the same person you’ve always been in every way. At some point, you were one person then experienced some things (went to college, got your heartbroken, had a baby, etc.) and imagebecame a different person. Still you, but different.

That, my friend, is an arc.

As to the why?

Without an arc, your protagonist would be one dimensional and boring. As mentioned in my last post, readers need to care about your characters. If they are flat and lifeless, readers will move on. With an arc, readers go on the journey with the character through their ups and downs, their fatal flaws, and in the end, the reader will feel complete.

A few months ago when I was working on character development, I was having a bit of trouble with my arc. I knew about the dominant “hero’s journey” arc, but honestly, I didn’t think it fit my character. This left me frustrated and unsure of how much I actually knew my character.

To my delight, I came across a fellow author who wrote a fantastic blog post on character arc. Even better, they were not hero’s journey character arcs.

Veronica Sicoe outlines three types of character arcs that I feel most any story could fall into.

In summary, she states that there are three types of arcs:image
1 – The Change Arc: this would be the standby hero’s journey.
2 – The Growth Arc: where the character remains much the same, but overcomes a conflict that makes them better. An offshoot called the Shift Arc resides here.
3 – The Fall Arc: Common to tragedies that lead to their downfall or even death.

Veronica explains each of these arcs and then goes into an example of how each would work in a story with setup, reaction, attack, and resolution.

Her post is laid out well and is easy to follow. Her examples of how each would work were invaluable to me and I could figure out where my characters fit in (which, by the way, isn’t the Change Arc!).

If you’re having trouble with an arc, run to her website here: http://www.veronicasicoe.com/blog/2013/04/the-3-types-of-character-arc-change-growth-and-fall/

I have book marked her page and refer to it quite often when writing. It helps remind me the path that my character is taking. And since sometimes my characters have a mind of their own, it helps me rein them back in when they get a little too far out in left field.

So, I send out a THANK YOU, to Veronica Sicoe for helping me on my character development journey.

You can find more on Veronica at www.veronicasicoe.com and on Twitter at @VeronicaSicoe.

‘Til Next Time,
Get Writing!
Eliza

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