So, you have your character’s starting point, where to next? One starting point is the character arc. Often, as readers and viewers, we already connect with four of the main story arcs without realization. As you learn more about character arcs, you may realize that you’ve got a favorite. For example, a lot of the hero stories use a transformational change arc. A villain to hero storyline uses a positive change arc. And some can use a flat arc, which sounds dull, but some of those characters become favored over others. Then the strange intrigue of a destructive character arc can lock readers in for future installments.
The positive, transformational, flat, and destructive change arcs are the most used, and we’ll focus on the positive change arc today.
The Positive Change Arc:
From rags to riches and uncaring to caring, the positive change arc takes the character from their low point to high. Many enjoy the positive change arcs because it’s a story of hope, growth, and overcoming challenges. Here’s one example. Zuko, from Avatar: The Last Airbender, (the animated version) is a great example of the positive change arc. Zuko’s fall from honor at the beginning of the show starts him on a destructive path. But as he travels with Uncle Iroh, he finds that the shame he thought he suffered wasn’t shameful of all. And by the end of the arc, Zuko actions redeem himself.
The positive change arc will challenge a belief that’s been holding the character back from their view of the world, themselves, or others. You’ll often find these characters discontent with their life or in denial because of any internal struggles. The discontent or denial often stems from a lack of understanding or a refusal of knowledge. As the story progresses, it should show how the lie damages their life even if they live in denial.
Positive Change Arc Breakdown Using A Christmas Carol:
The character begins with their lie firmly in place. Scrooge starts out as a man who sees everyone as freeloaders and money-sucking sources. He doesn’t respect the concept of family and expects everyone to work like him. I want to use this story because most know the basics, and I hope that helps you see the different parts of the positive change arc. Often the protagonists that follow a positive change arc won’t be your readers’ favorite, but the strong contrast at the end of the story explains why you focused on them for so many pages.
Then a weak force challenges the lie, which inevitably reinforces the lie. Scrooge faces this moment with Marley’s ghost, the first one. Marley’s ghost shows him the chains and talks about how he built them himself by ignoring the greatness around him and focusing on the ground beneath his feet.
At the midway point, the character sees the flaws in their lie, but they can’t fully accept their new truth until the climax. The ghost of Christmas present, Tiny Tim, took Scrooge to the home with a young, sick boy that reminded Scrooge of his loneliness as a child. Here he sees other people as actual people and not just money collectors.
Then the last about a quarter of your character arc should sustain the new truth and show how the new truth improved the character’s life. The climax for Ebenezer Scrooge comes with the third and final ghost. After the absolute acceptance of his flaws, he begs for another chance to live a better life, and when he awakes, he goes full throttle on his Christmas spirit. The last part of the story focuses on his kind actions, sacrifices, and growth from the experiences of one night and three ghosts.
What’s your favorite Positive Change Arc character? Are you using one in your story?
What tips have you found useful for writing Positive Change Arcs?
Thank you for reading! I hope this post improved your understanding of the Positive Change Arc for your characters. Not every story will have a positive change arc, or it may not be the protagonist’s path. We’ll address how to approach other character arcs to tie in with the positive change arc, whether it’s for your protagonist or a side character. As always, stay fresh, my nugs!
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