Learn 5 Types of Character Arc at a Glance: The 2 Heroic Arcs (Part 1 of 2) - by K.M. Weiland - Usa
There are only two or three human stories, but they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they never happened.–Willa Cather
The many different approaches to story theory break down the number of “human stories” into different categories. Perhaps there are just two—comedy and tragedy. Perhaps there are Vonnegut’s eight “shapes.” Today, I’m going to argue for five—the five basic types of character arc.
These include the two Truth-driven or heroic arcs—the Positive-Change Arcand the Flat Arc. And the three Lie-driven or Negative-Change Arcs—the Disillusionment Arc, the Fall Arc, and the Corruption Arc.
I’ve talked about all these arcs extensively, beat by beat, both in my series of posts and my book Creating Character Arcs and its companion workbook. But as someone recently pointed out in an email, I’ve never compiled a basic structural beat sheet of what all the arcs look like at a glance.
As of now, I’m remedying that with a two-part series that puts the basic principles and types of character arc all in one place. Today, we’re going to start by talking about, first, the basic ingredients necessary in any type of character arc, followed by a detailed but at-a-glance look at the two “truth-based” heroic arcs.
The 6 Foundational Ingredients of All Character Arcs
Let’s get started. All five arcs share several commonalities, beginning with their foundational structure (which I prefer to break into three acts and ten beats, as you’ll see below). Beyond that, they also share the following six foundational ingredients, which can then be mixed to the author’s needs according to whichever arc has been chosen for the story.
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