A character arc is a solid grounding that lies at the heart of every story. This term can be defined as the evolution of a personage. Simply put, it is a journey that a person (or creature) goes through within the story, during which a character undergoes certain changes in physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, or any other way.

Although many people believe that the plot is the most crucial part of a literary piece, specialists ensure that character arcs are the primary point of fiction. Thus, understanding how they are created is extremely important.

How can it come in handy? Knowledge of the core principles of building personages’ journeys will help you revamp your writing skills and make you a true author.

However, this skill can also come in handy even if you’re not a writer. Understanding how character arcs are made will allow you to analyze any piece deeper and more thoroughly. This can help you in your studies, let’s say when writing a poetry analysis essay example or any other literature analysis paper. You’ll also perform better when working on papers that are based on storytelling.

How to Create Compelling Character Arcs With Ease

Whether you are making a story on your own or analyzing someone else’s work, you have to remember that characters are always the heart of the plot. Their internal changes shape the entire dynamics of the piece. Thus, to understand their journeys or create your own, you need to know the basics of character arc building.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you are working on critical lens essays, descriptive essays, your own story, or analyzing a literary piece, the core principles don’t change, so learn how to build compelling arcs with ease below.

Step 1: Define the Ultimate Goal

The first rule of developing a compelling persona is to always give your character some sort of an ultimate (main) goal. It is what will be leading them through your story and putting them into interesting situations.

How to define the goal? Basically, it should come from the personality, desires, fears, and hopes that your personage has.

The easiest way to define the goal is to follow these steps:

  • determine the major obstacle;
  • outline the stakes;
  • reveal the personality through the goal.

As an example, let’s look at Harry Potter from J. K. Rowling’s series. Once the boy finds out about Voldemort and his role in the death of his parents, his ultimate goal becomes to defeat him. The major obstacle is the huge power of the bad guy. The author also outlines that the stakes are pretty high too – if Harry fails to defeat Voldemort, this will impact the whole world.

Notice how, following this goal, Harry Potter gets dragged into plenty of different entanglements, conflicts, and dangerous encounters. That’s how a good personage journey looks like.


Step 2: Identify Obstacles and Supporters

If your protagonist gets involved in the struggle all by themselves, it can be rather boring. That’s why pretty much any protagonist in any book is surrounded by many characters who support them throughout their journey, as well as many others who get in the way. This is something to keep in mind regardless of whether you are analyzing character arcs to create a causal analysis essay example or writing your own piece.

Thus, the next step in developing a compelling arc is to determine secondary personages that will be helping or hindering the main one.

Pro Tip: It’s vital that each secondary personage has well-defined strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, when your characters team up, their strengths and weaknesses should complement one another.

Step 3: Create a Point of No Return

The main part of any journey is the point of no return. This point is what leads your character to inevitable changes and evolution.

To create such a “breaking” point, it’s vital to have a good understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship of the story. Here is a common formula that authors use:

  • throw a personage into a dilemma with an irreversible decision;
  • reveal the consequences of that choice;
  • provide more rising and falling plot points that resulted from that choice.

Step 4: Show Change and Growth

Finally, to make your personage’s journey look complete, you must show how it contributed to the character’s growth and change. This is what will help you bring your story to life and keep the readers engaged.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you have a better idea of how authors are making their character arcs. Following the steps and tips described above, you can create your own masterpieces or analyze those of other authors.

In conclusion, there is just one more tip we can give you. If you are planning to work on your own literary piece, there are two things you can do to upgrade your skill further. First of all, read a lot! Looking at how other authors are developing their personages will help you create yours and make them look interesting and alive.

Secondly, you need to practice! The more you practice in developing character arcs, the more deep, thorough, and compelling they will get over time.

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