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What are Character Arcs and How to Craft Them?

Whenever someone watches a film or television series, it’s extremely remarkable to think that form of entertainment came from a script. Considering practically every show and movie originated from a script, it shows how important the world of screenwriting is. As popular as this subject might sound, writing a script is one of the most challenging endeavors for a person to accomplish.

The main reason writing a script is so difficult has to do with the number of rules and guides attached to it for it to be done correctly. Not to mention, you need to have an exciting story idea even to consider writing one. Once everything is said and done, it's a meager chance for a person even to sell their script. Basically, it's up to the person to write a script entirely on their terms with the hope to sell one.

Nonetheless, no matter the genre or specifics attached to a script, characters are arguably the most critical aspect of a script. Considering a script can't possibly thrive without good characters, what's the point of having a story without great characters? Characters are what people relate to, root for, enjoy, and are what drive a story forward. B-roll and random shots only add to the story; they don't control it as characters do.

Nonetheless, a character arc is generally thought of as an integral part for any writer to consider when discussing their character's journey. Although this notion might seem to only apply to an epic film with an actual journey, it's not. Technically, every great film and television series has a character arc regarding their main protagonists and antagonists. Down below, we're going to discuss what a character arc is, and you can craft them down below. Let's take a look!

Photo credit: JustWatch

What's a Character Arc?

For those who don't know, a character arc might seem like a daunting task to write, but it's not. In fact, the opposite is quite true. A character arc is typically the transformation or inner journey of a character throughout the course of a story. This doesn't necessarily mean how they're entirely different by the end of the story, but how they've changed and evolved.

For example, Taxi Driver is a perfect example of a character arc with the character Travis Bickle. Travis is a disturbed taxi driver who gives us a sense that he’s going to do something wrong sooner than later. However, as the story evolves, Travis ends up risking his life to save the life of Iris.

Basically, if you think of any fantastic film or television series, it's relatively straightforward to think of the primary character arc in them. Even mediocre films have a sense of a character arc in them. As an audience, we want to see the transformation of characters, whether good or bad. It helps us enjoy the program better and is an excellent part of the entertainment.

Introductions are Important

Since a character arc is how a character evolves, introductions are significant. It doesn't matter how a character changes if the introduction falls flat. Of course, this doesn't mean to overwrite and to drag on the opening. All it means is that the introduction to the main protagonist or antagonist has to be a perfect representation of who they are at that moment.

Conflict and How they React

Any great story comes with the need for conflict. Conflict is what makes a story exciting and propels it forward. Without it, a story is boring and doesn't have anything going for it. Some might think of conflict as physical altercations, but this isn't the primary cause. Conflict can be anything from a character dying, failing a class, losing something, getting angry at someone, etc. Basically, anything that prevents the main character from achieving their goal. This is a vital part of a character arc since it'll shape how they change.

Plot Points

Every story has various plot points that make it attractive. These plot points should be thought of as chapters leading to your character's change or journey. Realize what plot points are and how they can help you develop your character a lot better.


Lastly, you’re going to want to think about how your character arc resolves. This is typically thought of as whether or not they become a better or worse person. As simple as that sounds, many people struggle with it, which is why it’s crucial to plan out your story and various character arcs.


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