What if there were a sure-fire secret to creating stunning character arcs? Would you be interested in discovering it? If you care about connecting with readers, grabbing hold of their emotions, and creating stories that will resonate with them on a level deeper than mere entertainment, then the answer has to be a resounding yes!
But here’s the thing about character arcs: they’re way too easy to take for granted. On the surface, character arcs seem to boil down to nothing more than a simple three-step process:
1. The protagonist starts one way.
2. The protagonist learns some lessons throughout the story.
3. The protagonist ends in a (probably) better place.
That’s character arc in a nutshell. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. What’s to learn?
Turns out: a lot.
The Link Between Character Arcs and Story Structure
Too often, character and plot are viewed as separate entities—to the point that we often pit them against each other, trying to determine which is more important. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Plot and character are integral to one other. Remove either one from the equation, or even just try to approach them as if they were independent of one another, and you risk creating a story that may have awesome parts, but which will not be an awesome whole.
Also see this follow-up post: Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 2: The Lie Your Character Believes