Evolution of Characters: The Character Arc

In storytelling, just as in life, change is inevitable. Characters grow, evolve, learn and change based on their experiences. This is where the character arc comes into play.

What Is a Character Arc?

A character arc is essentially a character’s transformation or inner journey over the course of a story. It’s the metamorphosis, the evolution or even the subtle shift that your character undergoes from the beginning to the end of the narrative.

Why Character Arcs Are Needed in a Story

The character arc propels the plot forward, lends depth to your character, and keeps readers engaged. Without character arcs, characters would feel flat, uninteresting and lacking in development.

Dos and Don’ts of Creating a Character’s Arc

  • Do: Create a clear starting point for your character’s arc.
  • Don’t: Make your character’s transformation sudden or unexplained.
  • Do: Allow the plot events to influence your character’s transformation.
  • Don’t: Create a character arc that doesn’t align with your story’s theme or message.
  • Do: Remember to show your character’s internal and external changes.
  • Don’t: Ignore the possibility of negative or downward character arcs.

Examples of Great Character Arcs Through the Years

Here are a few great examples of amazing character arcs I love. As a writer, I think these are perfection.

Frodo Baggins From “The Lord of the Rings”

Frodo goes from being an ordinary hobbit to a hero carrying the One Ring’s immense burden.

Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice”

Elizabeth’s prejudices and misconceptions about Mr. Darcy gradually change as she slowly understands his true character.

Tony Stark in the “Iron Man” and “Avengers” series

Tony evolves from a self-centered genius to a hero who sacrifices himself for the greater good of the entire universe.

Craft Your Characters Carefully

Crafting a compelling character arc takes patience, forethought and a deep understanding of your character. But the reward of seeing your characters grow and change is worth every bit of the effort.