The Character Evolution Files, No. 2: What Are the Three Types of Character Arcs?

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue the series with File No. 02, which discusses the three types of character arcs.

We launched the Character Evolution Files last month by defining the term “character evolution,” explaining why character evolution (specifically character arcs) is crucial to a story, and listing the stages that align a standard arc with the story plot. Logically speaking, the next step would be to start exploring the journey through the arc, right? Well… not quite.

Here’s the catch: More than one type of character arc exists. Our characters can change for better or worse. Or, perhaps they might not change much, except in strength of resolve. So, how do writers determine what kind of arc a character is following, or which arc fits our story best?

That’s the purpose of File No. 2. We’ll go over the three standard types of character arcs and how they differ from each other so we can understand how they function. Plus, we’ll review an example of each arc from published literature, and end with how to determine which type of arc will work best for your character. Ready?

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