Character's Arc.

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  • Character's Arc.

    I have an outline that a few members of "DD" here are looking at, and I am getting praises and criticism regarding my story. I take the kindness to the gain of salt.

    Furthermore, I'm having trouble with my main character's arc... trying to make him interesting enough to draw out the story for his cause. I have the villain nicely, and I am enjoying the outcome of his desires and how he is obtaining it. But, the main character lays flat. Does anyone have this problem? If so, what advice can you provide to someone who is having this issue with his main character... I know it depends on the story... but maybe someone out has a guide or reference sheet on developing this arc for the character to make him/or her stand out!

    I'm open for help, all others I will simply ignore.



    Thanks!
    D. Alin
    http://alinproduction.blogspot.com Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Basically) [Skype me at "Buyitpc" - I will surely love to talk!]

  • #2
    Re: Character's Arc.

    Originally posted by David Alin
    Furthermore, I'm having trouble with my main character's arc... trying to make him interesting enough to draw out the story for his cause.
    Sounds like you're having trouble with the story. Plot should draw out a person's character and test it by presenting choices. Character, after all, is defined through actions.

    I have the villain nicely, and I am enjoying the outcome of his desires and how he is obtaining it. But, the main character lays flat. Does anyone have this problem?
    Flat characterisation is a problem, lack of a defined "character arc" isn't. Human beings don't "arc" through a crisis, they act according to their character. "Character arc" is devspeak--in and of itself meaningless, all encompassing mumbojumbo that's used when note-givers can't put a finger on a specific problem.
    The Complete IfilmPro DEVELOPMENT FORUM (PDF)

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    • #3
      Re: Character's Arc.

      Does your character have a flaw? Sounds like he/she doesn't.
      "What's worse than being talked about? Not being talked about."

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      • #4
        Re: Character's Arc.

        Originally posted by David Alin
        Furthermore, I’m having trouble with my main character’s arc… trying to make him interesting enough to draw out the story for his cause.
        Does he have a desire or a need? Is there something blocking his desire or need? Is he acting positively to overcome its blocking and thusly achieve his desire or need?

        Does this bring CHANGE?

        Does that process BUILD drama and action until a climax?

        That's what's interesting in an arc (imo)
        sigpic
        "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world -
        that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves."
        -Mahatma Gandhi.

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        • #5
          Re: Character's Arc.

          Yeah, what everyone else said.

          What's at stake for your protag? Why can't he just turn and walk away, why must he stay and deal with it? Will we see and understand why he chooses to go on?

          What problem must he overcome? Does it involve risk? Is he willing to take the risk, if not for himself then for others? Will we feel concern for him and appreciate his heroism?

          When the film's over and done, will your protag be seen to have changed in some way by what's happened, by what he did, by who he helped, by who he defeated, by what he gained, by what he lost?

          The first two questions are character-related, your protag's choices and actions will define his character, hopefully earning him appeal and interest from the audience. The third is the character's arc, which will hopefully give the audience empathic satisfaction (they'll feel what he's feeling).

          In theory. As long as he actually DOES something, I think you'll be OK. Er, he does DO something, doesn't he?

          -Derek
          My Web Page - naked women, bestial sex, and whopping big lies.
          Take the critiques you get with a grain of salt. Invariably, some of the critics will be kooks, bitter curmudgeons, or complete fools. ~odocoileus

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          • #6
            Re: Character's Arc.

            All the comments are dead on. Broughcut's so right about the story giving the character enough meat to work with.

            I also think sometimes people rein their main characters in b/c they're emotionally closer to them, and don't want to exaggerate their reactions. It's weird, but it happens a lot when people write autobiographically--all the teritiary characters are colorful, and the main character (usually themself) is more contained.

            That may or not be the case with your script. But, I would find a reason that your character has to be in this story. Essentially the story is a second villian for the main character, and also a crucial part of him. So he needs to be both congruent with the plotline (desire) and resistant to it (fear (which doesn't have to manifest as fear. Could be resistance, fight, struggle, etc)).

            What ties him to the story will help arc him as the story completes. When the story's over, he no longer needs it because he's changed the final outcome, as well as changing his need to involve himself--at least in the same way.

            It's very 'Batman.'
            https://actbreakdown.com

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            • #7
              Re: Character's Arc.

              Originally posted by David Alin
              I have an outline that a few members of "DD" here are looking at, and I am getting praises and criticism regarding my story. I take the kindness to the gain of salt.

              Furthermore, I'm having trouble with my main character's arc... trying to make him interesting enough to draw out the story for his cause. I have the villain nicely, and I am enjoying the outcome of his desires and how he is obtaining it. But, the main character lays flat. Does anyone have this problem? If so, what advice can you provide to someone who is having this issue with his main character... I know it depends on the story... but maybe someone out has a guide or reference sheet on developing this arc for the character to make him/or her stand out!

              I'm open for help, all others I will simply ignore.



              Thanks!
              Stories are about the day that X characters life changed completely. What is the status of your protag at the beginning of the story? How he gets to be totally different by the end of the story is the arc.

              maybe you're writing the wrong story? You mention that you really like the antagonist, perhaps you should write his story instead?

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              • #8
                Re: Character's Arc.

                Originally posted by whistlelock
                Stories are about the day that X characters life changed completely. What is the status of your protag at the beginning of the story? How he gets to be totally different by the end of the story is the arc.

                maybe you're writing the wrong story? You mention that you really like the antagonist, perhaps you should write his story instead?
                Words... words... all the words typed out on the internet are always misinterpreted. When I stated I liked the villain (antagonist) I meant it by the terms compared to my main character in his conflicts in the story... as I wrote him and perhaps I focused too much trying to figure a way to build some villainous conflict for the antagonis, I lost the arc of my main character... I gave the need for money issues and using a treasure map to help Ernie with his goals, pushing the story forward with adult issues and conflict between jealously and greed. Then the map concept became a focal point of my story.

                My antagonist Ernie is not the only one after the same thing, my main character and Rachel discovers it too... according to my outline at this point. But he (Jarvis) doesn't realize that until it's too late!

                Maybe the time concept of that discovery issue was written incorrectly into the story?

                There are (3) three basic players in the story, Ernie, Jarvis and Rachel. They're after the same thing! But, Jarvis and Rachel discover that they need that thing somewhere in the middle of the story. So, maybe the timing is off...

                But, also... the main character has another conflict. Himself! His memory issues. It has to tie up quickly some way before the middle of the story... so his desire to help find the map becomes a purpose. But what does one do when he loses his memory... what does one do? Anyone? Anyone?

                Maybe the change should be different? I'm open to suggestions?

                If anyone is interested in reading the outline, it's only 11 pages long... at this point. If you were reading it in Microsoft WORD that is. But, I created it in a .PDF file. So, in reality, anyone can actually read it.

                I would prefer some criticism on it, to help me see where the weakest points are, and what I need to focus on. And if you have any suggestions to what you think would be better to improve the story by altering the main character's personalities, and goals and what type of characteristics he should have to make him stand out. (That would be Jarvis by the way.)

                I admit, he's I wrote him to be subtle. If I removed him from the story at this point in time, the story would be the same as if he wasn't there... except for the ending. Which he is desperately need for. So, that surely is a problem.

                I believe that Jarvis's memory should be a part of the equalization to help this issue of the character arc, giving him a desire or a need. Then what is perhaps blocking the character (Jarvis) from remembering who he is, and why... then how his role now changes to help Rachel retrieve the map which Ernie also wants. The outline does explain those issues of dramatic points, but Jarvis's interaction to everything is off. I'm trying to figure out what element of improvement would be best to work on to fix this problem!

                In a nut shell, Jarvis travels back and meets his mother and partner, but doesn't remember who he is at first. (A new improvement which was suggested) That eventually he begins to recall, in either a nightmare, or memory issue (like something that could easily trigger his memory to remember). And the same time he struggles in a way to retrieve part of the map to find the hidden family treasure.

                Yeah, yeah, yeah... "Goonies- comes to mind, right? But this story is different; it has to deal with corrupted adult issues and not children going off for an adventure. There is a love triangle issue to be played out... maybe you could request a copy to judge for yourself. I have no objections, after all... it's to improve and answer my question on character arc. I want this character to stand out!
                David Alin
                Member
                Last edited by David Alin; 03-24-2006, 08:31 AM.
                D. Alin
                http://alinproduction.blogspot.com Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Basically) [Skype me at "Buyitpc" - I will surely love to talk!]

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                • #9
                  Re: Character's Arc.

                  Sounds like a wicked challenging structure overall.

                  If you keep both the memory issues (a bear in itself--why?) and the treasure map, you'll need the treasure map, as you said, to be the catalyst for retrieving lost memory.

                  He'll have to find the map in the first act, not the middle of the story.

                  The lost memory thing is a whole issue in itself. You have to be consistent with the rules of what your character remembers and how and when he forgot about the outside world and himself. So many movies hinge on an entire plot on amnesia. (Long Kiss Goodnight, Memento, Bourne Identity)You should be certain it makes your story better. If you really think it will, once you create the rules around the amnesia, you'll be filling in tremendous blanks for your character.

                  BTW: What's the ultimate theme/lesson of the story? Are they just looking for money behind this map, or is there something more profound (perhaps tied into the lost memory) that can round out the search and arcs?
                  https://actbreakdown.com

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                  • #10
                    Re: Character's Arc.

                    Originally posted by amandag
                    Sounds like a wicked challenging structure overall.

                    If you keep both the memory issues (a bear in itself--why?) and the treasure map, you'll need the treasure map, as you said, to be the catalyst for retrieving lost memory.

                    He'll have to find the map in the first act, not the middle of the story.

                    The lost memory thing is a whole issue in itself. You have to be consistent with the rules of what your character remembers and how and when he forgot about the outside world and himself. So many movies hinge on an entire plot on amnesia. (Long Kiss Goodnight, Memento, Bourne Identity)You should be certain it makes your story better. If you really think it will, once you create the rules around the amnesia, you'll be filling in tremendous blanks for your character.

                    BTW: What's the ultimate theme/lesson of the story? Are they just looking for money behind this map, or is there something more profound (perhaps tied into the lost memory) that can round out the search and arcs?
                    There is a lot to consider, no doubt. The theme is one finding who he is and why... money is only part of it. Or at least from the begining of the conception of the story. Love and companionship is another altered choice. Would you like to read the outline and give me your personal opinion... I don't object?
                    D. Alin
                    http://alinproduction.blogspot.com Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Basically) [Skype me at "Buyitpc" - I will surely love to talk!]

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                    • #11
                      Re: Character's Arc.

                      Would be happy to read the outline, David. I'm finishing a script this wknd and next week (crunch time), and then I'm on vacation in another land.

                      If you can take a raincheck for a few weeks, PM or e-mail me with it.
                      https://actbreakdown.com

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                      • #12
                        Re: Character's Arc.

                        Originally posted by amandag
                        Would be happy to read the outline, David. I'm finishing a script this wknd and next week (crunch time), and then I'm on vacation in another land.

                        If you can take a raincheck for a few weeks, PM or e-mail me with it.
                        I would be happy too... just try to remember it's a work in progress and I am eager to listen to everyone in my peer's on their opinion on the subject matter.

                        I knew when NePatsFan mentioned it to me after three months of working on this, that he is weak and fails to be expressed in the story as he should be. The villian is good, a purpose and a struggle... I think I was worried at the very begining to have this villian have a purpose that my mind wandered into fixing him up with a problem that I forgot to focus on the main character's issues and the more I wrote on the more he became flat... unimpressive.

                        Way too much chatting, I'll sen you a PM on it. Get back to me when you can, surely two others will have done so by now.

                        Cheers!
                        D. Alin
                        http://alinproduction.blogspot.com Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Basically) [Skype me at "Buyitpc" - I will surely love to talk!]

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