External conflict often plays a major role in genre fiction, forming the foundation for a story’s plot as the protagonist struggles to achieve their goal in the face of opposition. As such, many genre fiction writers spend a considerable amount of time developing their story’s plot arcs while giving little thought to an equally powerful story element: character arcs.
A character arc is a sequence of events that details a character’s internal struggle. Even in heavily plot-driven stories, character arcs play an important role, lending emotional weight that gives meaning to all that external conflict. Just imagine how much less impactful Katniss’s decision to kill Cato would have been if Suzanne Collins hadn’t first established her struggle to hold true to her values in the face of the Capitol’s corruption.
The fight to maintain one’s values in the face of temptation is the definition of a static character arc, a less common type of character arc that I discuss at length in this article.
However, most character arcs are transformative, with a character either overcoming a significant internal obstacle or succumbing to it. This obstacle can be mental, emotional, or spiritual in nature and often results in a false belief that shapes your character’s identity. This false belief is also known as the “Lie” your character believes.
Of the three types of character arcs (i.e. positive, negative, and static), positive arcs are by far the most prominent in genre fiction. It’s for this reason that I’m going to show you how to develop an effective positive change arc today.