How to Create Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland

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Intellectual Humiliation

Confront your own ignorance.

How to Create Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland

The mastersful author’s guide to uniting story structure, plot, and character development  

The Lie Your Character Believes

Plot, in its implies that manifestation, is all about the protagonist’s thwarted goal. He wants something and he can’t have it, so he keeps right on trying.

The positive change arc, in its simplest manifestations, is all about the protagonist’s changing priorities. He realizes the reason he’s not getting what he wants in the. It can either:
– He wants the wrong thing.
– His moral methods for achieving what he wants are all wrong.

In order for your character to evolve in a positive way, he has to start out with something lacking in his life, some reason to make the change necessary. He’s incomplete in some way, but not because he’s lacking something external. He’s harboring some deeply held misconceptions about either himself, the world, or both. This misconception is going to prove a direct obstacle to his ability to fulfill his plot goal. In some instances, it may start out seeming to be a strength, as the story progresses, it will become his Achilles heel.

He might not know he has a problem. He might even be in denial about it until the inciting event (12% mark) or the first plot point.

Symptoms of the Lie

How do you find the lie? First, examine your plot to see if the lie might already be evident in the conflict. Second, look at the characters actions – and especially his reactions. See if you can spot any of the following:

– Fear
– Inability to forgive
– Extreme hurt
– Guilt
– Horrible secrets
– Shame over something done

None of these are the lie, but products of the lie.

Questions to Ask About the Lie the Character Believes

1. What misconception does your protagonist have about himself or the world?
2. What is he lacking mental, spiritually?
3. How is the interior reflected in the character’s exterior world?
4. When the story opens in the lie making his life miserable? If so how?
5. If not, will the inciting event and /or first plot point begin to make him uncomfortable as a result of his lie?
6. Does your character’s lie require any qualifies to narrow its focus?
7. What are symptoms of your charater’s lie?

The Thing Your Character Wants is the Thing Your Character Needs

What Your Character Wants

The first intersection of character arc and plot is found in the protagonist goal. What does he want? What’s his mayor story goal?

Every story starts with the character’s goal. Simple enough, right? But that’s just the plot. What about the character?

It isn’t enough for use to create a story goal that just a surface goal. To intertwine with the character’s arc, this goal needs to be an extension or reflection of something that matter’s to the character on a deep level. He has to want that goal for a soul-deep reason, one he may not fully comprehend.

What is the Thing Your Character Wants?

The thing your character wants will always be something external, something physical. He’s trying to slay his inner emptiness with exterior solutions. He’s problem is depression, but he’s putting a cast on his arm.

What Your Character Needs

In a word, the thing your character needs is the truth. He needs a personalized antidotal to his live. This is the most important thing in his life. If he misses in this truth, he’s never going to be able to grow in a positive way.

Your character will spend most of the story pursuing an outer, plot-related goal to the thing he wants. But what the story is really about, on a deeper level, is a growth into a place where he, first subconsciously, the consciously, recognized and pursues his inner-goal – the thing he wants.

What is the Thing Your Character Needs

The thing you character needs won’t be physical, but should take a physical or visual manifestation by the end of the story. The thing your character needs is usually going to be nothing more than a realization in most stories, this realization may change nothing about his external life, but will always transform his perspective of himself and the world around him, leaving more capable of coping with his remaining external problems.

He might have to sacrifice what he wants in order to secure what he needs.

Questions to Ask About TYCW vs TYCN

1. How is the lie holding your character back?
2. How is the life making your character unhappy or unfulfilled?
3. What truth does your character need to disprove the lie?
4. How will he learn his truth?
5. What does your character want more than anything?
6. How is plot goal of the character related to or an extension of the thing he wants?
7. Does he believe the thing he wants will solve his personal problems?
8. Is the thing he wants holding him back from the thing he needs?
9. Does the thing he needs preclude his gaining the thing he wants – or will he only be able to gain the thing he wants after he has found the thing he needs?
10. He will his life be different once he embraces the thing he needs?

Your protagonist’s inner conflict is all about this silent war between his want and his need. But it’s also the gasoline in the engine of the outer working in concert, you’ll have a plot and character well on their way to perfect harmony.

Your Character’s Ghost

What is your character’s ghost, and how does it after his character arc? Once you’ve figure out the lie your character believes, the thing he want as and what he needs, the next question is: why does the character believe the lie in the first place? To find the answer find something ghostly in his pasts.

If you character is in the need of undergoing a change arc, the your first task is figuring out why he needs to change what happened to cause him to embrace this obviously damaging lie? Find the reason, and you’ll find the ghost.

Your Character’s Ghost

Ghost is movie speak for something in your character’s past that haunts him. Often this ghost will be something traumatic and shocking.

The bigger and more destructive the lie the more shocking and impactful the ghost should be. Or to flip that the bigger ghost, the bigger the life, the bigger the arc.

The ghost will often be a part of your characters backstory and readers will discover it only bit by bit. In these cases, the ghost can often provide a tantalizing mystery. The why your character believes in the lie will hook reader’s curiosity, and you can string them along for most of the book will only little clues, until finally the ghost is presented in grand reveal toward the end.

What is Your Character’s Ghost?

The ghost may be a simple as an ingrained belief, it may be something horrific that he did or was done to him or someone he loved, or the ghost may be something the protagonist embraces without realizing the damage it causes. The key to identifying the ghost is understanding it will always be the underlying cause for the protagonist belief in the lie.

Questions to Ask About Your Character’s Ghost

1. Why does your character believe the lie?2. Is there an even in his past that has traumatized him?
3. If not, will there be an event in the first act that will traumatize him?
4. Why does the character nourish the lie ?
5. How will be benefit from the truth?
6. How “big” is your characters ghost?
7. Where will you reveal your character’s ghost? All at once early on? Or piece by piece throughout the story, with bigger reveal towards the end?
8. Does your story need a ghost to be revealed would it work better if you never revealed it?

The Characteristic Moment

Your protagonist characteristic moment in his first chance to impress you readers. The structure of character arc begins with the characteristic moment. The characteristic moment aligns with the hook. It show up the moment your protagonist does – presumably in the first chapter.

Your Protagonist Characteristic Moment

The characteristic moment must accomplish several tasks:

1. Introduce your protagonist.
2. (Probably) revel your protagonist’s name.
3. Indicate your protagonist’s, age, gender, age, nationality, and possible his occupation.
4. Indicate important physical characteristics.
5. Indicate his role in the story.
6. Demonstrate the prevailing aspect of his personality.
7. Hook reader’s sympathy and/or their interest.
8. Show the protagonist’s scene goal.
9. Indicate the protagonist scene goal. 
10. Demonstrate or at least hint your protagonist’s lie. 
11. Include the plot, preferably directly, but at the very least in a way that foreshadow later events.

Don’t settle for opening with your character doing any old thing. Select an event that will:

1. Make the protagonist appealing to readers.
2. Introduce all his strengths and weaknesses.
3. Build the plot.

Convince Readers to Invest In Your Character

If you Inter your character to be like able, despite his flows, start with that. What do you like about him? What scene can you craft to highlight that? He doesn’t have to be nice in this scene; he just has to be interesting.

Create a Memorable Scene

Think big. Take our character’s chief virtue and expand it. And even though you might not be able to introduce the lie right away, you must introduce it as quickly as possible. The lie frames your character arc – and thus your entire story. Readers need proof of your character’s weakness in order to understand what he will have to overcome.

Questions to Ask About Your Characteristic Moment

1. What important personality trait, virtue or skill best sums up your protagonist?
2. How can you dramatize this trait in a way that also introduces the plot?
3. How can you dramatize this trait to its fullest extent?
4. How you can demonstrate your protagonist belief in his lie?
5. Can you reveal or hint at his ghost?
6. How can you use this scene reveal the thing he wants?
7. Does the protagonist’s pursuit of both the overall goal and the scene goal meet with an obvious obstacle?
8. How can you share important details about your protagonist (name, age, physical appearance) quickly and unobtrusively?

The Normal World

In a story, the normal world will play an important role in the first quarter of your story – the first act. This entire segment can basically be summarized as “setup” and a normal world plays a vital role in the story on a concrete setting. Even more important, the normal world creates the standard against which all the personal and plot changes come will be measured.

The normal world is a setting in which you character has found contentment – or at least complacency.

Possible Manifestations of the Normal World

The normal world may seem wonderful on the surface, only to have its perfect facade cracked open wide, along with the character’s misconceptions about the world and himself. 

The Symbolism of the Normal World

The point is the normal world is a place the protagonist either doesn’t want to leave or can’t leave.

Think of the normal world as a symbolic representation of your character’s inner world. The normal world dramatizes the lie the character believes. It empowers the character in that lie, giving him no reason to look beyond it. Only when the normal world is challenged or abandoned a the first plot point is the protagonist belief in the lie shaken.

How to Create Your Story’s Normal World

Ask yourself what kind of world will provide the most logical backstory for why your character believes the lie. Then consider how to enhance the normal world by making it the comfiest place ever for that lie to continue its existence. Next, ask yourself how you can create a normal world that will best contrast the “adventure world” to follow in the next two steps.

Questions to Ask About the Normal World

1. What setting will open your story?
2. How will this setting change at the first plot point?
3. How can you contrast the normal world with the “adventure world” to follow?
4. How does the normal world dramatize or symbolize your character’s enslavement to lie?
5. How is the normal enabling our enforcing the lie?
6. Why is the character in the normal world?
7. If your character doesn’t want to leave the normal world, what is helping him mask the discomfort cause by his lie?
8. If your character wants to leave, what’s stopping him?
9. Will the character return to the normal world at the end of the story?
10. If the normal world is a legitimately good place, how will the protagonist need to change in order to appreciate it?

The normal world presents the valuable opportunity to visually dramatize your character’s lie.

The First Act

The first act setup the plot, but even more importantly, it sets up the characters arcs.

6 Parts of Character Arc in the First Act

1. Reinforce the lie: the reinforcement of your character’s lie will being in the first chapter, specifically through the revelation of the thing he wants and the thing he needs. His characteristic moment and his normal world will both illustrate the lie. The readers need to see how the character’s internal problems are, in turn, causing external problems. This reinforcement should continue throughout the first act.
2. Indicate the character’s potential to overcome the lie: right from the beginning, the readers need to glimpse at least a little that your character possesses the capacity to change. What specific quality will be intrinsic to your character’s ability to fight his way out of the lie? Ever if your character hasn’t yet fully developed this trait, his right form the beginning that the see is there. 
3. Provide the character’s first step in discovering how to grow and change: your character can’t change unless he first knows how to change. The first act is the place to begin foreshadowing that change by giving the character a hint or tow about the nature of his lie and – even more specifically – the truth he’ll need to learn in order to counteract it.
4. Give the character an inciting event to refuse: heres’ an important thing about the inciting event: your character doesn’t much like it. If he engages with the inciting event, his old life will change, and he doesn’t want that. As uncomfortable as his did life may be, he’d rather still cling to it’s familiarity. But the inciting event changes that for it forces him to acknowledge he has a problem. The familiarity of his old world isn’t quite so comfortable. 
The structures timing for your inciting event is halfway through the first act. This gives you the opportunity to introduce your character and his world before thing him with his first major encounter with the main conflict. The previous events must build to the inciting event. 
5. Evaluate the character’s belief in the lie: toward the end of the first act, the character will still be entrenched in the lie. He believes in it just as strongly now as he did in the beginning. But on a subconscious level he’s beginning to fight against its foundation. As a result, his belief is how he serves the lie begins to evolve. 
6. Make the character decide: the first act ends when the character finally decides to do something about that annoying inciting event that bumped into his life a few chapters back. This will propel him into the first plot point.

Questions to Ask About Your Characters Arc in the First Arc

1. How will you introduce and reinforce your character’s lie in the first act?
2. How will you use the “elbow room” in the first act to space out the various layers of your character’s lie, goals and personality?
3. How will you indicate your character’s incident potential to overcome the lie?
4. What aspect of the truth can you share with the character in the first act? How will you share it?
5. What will be your inciting event?
6. Why will your character initially reject the inciting event?
7. How quickly will your character get over his initial rejection of the inciting event’s “cal to adventure”?
8. Toward the end of the first act, how will your character’s belief in how he serves the lie begin to evolve?
9. What decision will the character make that will grange him in the inciting event?

The first act is your opportunity to lay solid foundation for your entire story.

The First Plot Point

The first plot point is where the story begins “for real”. At this point, the character commits – usually because he has no choice – to a decision that will propel him out of the comfortable stagnation of the normal world and the lie he believes.

Visualize a locked door separating the first act form the second act. The first plot point is when the character inserts a key on that door and unlocks it.

The first plot point will usually be a major scene. In a trailer something will explode.

The first plot point can be found in three important decisions your character must make.

Character Decision #1: Prior to the First Plot Point

The first plot point needs to be preceded by a strong decision on your character’s part. This decision leads to character to the first plot point, but the decision itself isn’t plot point. The first plot point to your character to upend his plans. It either destroys his normal world, leaving him no choice but to physically travel on or it wraps the normal world, forcing the protagonist to adapt to new ways of surviving within it.

Character Decision #2: During the First Plot Point

The most important thing about your first plot point is your character’s decision to it. The first plot point sets up a series of reactions that will occupy your character for the next quarter of the book, up until the midpoint. As such the first plot pint must cause one very specific initial reaction.

Character Decision #3: After the First Plot Point

Your character will have two basic reaction to the FPP. Either he’ll embrace it head on, or he’ll be kicking and screaming as events beyond his control drag him through. What’s important is that the character establishes a physical goal – base on the thing he wants. He’ll have needs that must be met, either in an effort to restore the old “normal” and/or in an effort to find new normal.

Just as importantly, this definitive reaction the FPP will shape your character’s arc. You’ve found the right FPP when your character is dragged from his complacency and puts his feet on the path to destroying his lie.

Questions to Ask About the First Plot Point in Your Character’s Arc

1. What mayor event will slam into your character’s normal world and force him to alter his original plans?
2. What decision will lead your character to the FPP?
3. Will the FPP seem favorable? If so, how will the complications turn out to be waster than the protagonist expected?
4. Or will this event will be obviously disastrous? How?
5. Will the protagonist willingly embrace the FPP and walk into the second act under his own power?
6. Or will he be dragged kicking and scream? 
7. Will the FPP destroy the normal world? Or will it remove him form the normal world? Or will it wrap the new world around the protagonist?
8. How will your character rect to the FPP?
9. What new goal with the protagonist form in response to the FPP?
10. How ill the FPP put your character on the path to his new truth?
11. How ill the FPP create a new world that will punish him for acting according to his lie?

The First Half of the Second Act

In the first half of the second act is where your characters ventures (or is thrust) into uncharted territory – and gets lots. He may not quite see it himself that way, but this where he begins to discover the old rules (the Lie He Believes) no longer apply.

This puts him in a bit of tailspin. He scrambles to react to the events of the first plot point while chasing as hard as ever after the thing he wants. He’s reacting in the sense that he’s at the mercy of the antagonistic force; he’s not in control of the conflict.

The first half of the second act is where your character reacts to the first plot point.

The first half of the second act features a pinch point (at the 37% mark), in which the antagonist flexes his muscles and reminds readers what the protagonist is up against.

Four Parts of the Character Arc in the First Half of the Second Act

There’s no firm timing for ny of these, as long as they take place before the midpoint.

1. Provide the character with tools to overcome his lie: he won’t be given la the tools yet, but he will receive at least a nail. He will receive one piece of the puzzle. The first tool will come in the form of information on how to overcome the lie. Often it will result from another character offering advice. At the same time he’s learning necessary physical skills to battle the antagonist in the climax, he should also be learning tools to combat his lie.
These truths should be more than theoretical they need to be applicable truths.

2. Show the protagonist encountering difficulties in pursuing his lie: he has yet to even recognize there is a lie to overcome. He’s still trying to pursue business as usual. He’s reacting to new events in the same old way – an it’s not working. 
In the second act, the protagonist will be punished for acting according to his lie. Where his lie used to encourage him and get him what he wanted, his lie now begins to get in his way.

3. Move the character closer to what he wants and farther from what he needs: at this point the character is still hell bent on getting his hands on the thing he wants. Because he’s convinced it’s going to solve all his problems, he desires it with single-minded fanaticism. But he fails to see that getting closer to the thing he wants will only push him farther away form the thing he needs.

4. Give the character a glimpse of life without the lie: this glimpse will probably result form a demonstration of the character’s actions and attitudes, but it could also be thanks to the character’s momentary shedding his lie and getting a hint of the reward of truth.

Questions to Ask Aabout Your Character’s Arc in the First Second Half of the Second Act

1. How is your character reacting to the first plot point?
2. What “tools” can you provide your character build the first rung in the ladder that will scale his lie?
3. What minor character can offer advice or exemplary behavior to help mentor your protagonist?
4. How can you show your protagonist first step in overcoming his lie, instead of just telling him about it?
5. How will your character attempt to use his lie to solve plot problems?
6. How will be he “punished” as result?
7. How will these failures evolve your character’s outlook and tactics?
8. How will your character’s single minded pursuit of his goal lead him closer to the thing he wants?
9. How will his pursuit of the thing he wants cause him to risk turning farther away form the thing he needs?
10. After the FPP, how will the new world provide the character with a golpes of how life might be without his lie?

The Midpoint

The midpoint acts as a swivel for the entire story. Not only is it a crucial moment of revelation in your character’s arc, it also marks the end of his reactive phase and his transition into active mode.

Your midpoint is an important opportunity for a killer scene.

The midpoint emphasis is always place on the protagonists shift from active role (not in control of the conflict) to an active role (taking control of the conflict). This is the fundamental turning point in your book.

The Moment of Truth

At the midpoint, the character ceases to serve merely in a reactionary role and begins to take definite action in overcoming the antagonist force. He’ll gain a better understanding of both the external conflict and his inner self in that conflict. In other words, he finally sees the truth. This is the point in which he finally accepts the truth.

Questions to Ask About Your Character’s Arc in the Midpoint

1. What persona revelation strikes your protagonist at the midpoint?
2. How is your protagonist different at the midpoint form who he was the FPP?
3. How does the revelation at the midpoint prompt the character move form reaction to action by providing him the knowledge to start talking control of the conflict?
4. What definite action will your protagonist take against the antagonist force?
5. What new understanding of the conflict does your protagonist gain at the midpoint?
6. What new understanding of himself does the protagonist gain at the midpoint?
7. What is his moment of truth? What truth does he recognize and accept? What causes him to accept it?
8. How is your character still consciously clinging to his lie?
9. What actions is he taking that are based on the truth?
10. How does the contrast between the simultaneously held lie and truth evolve his inner conflict?

The midpoint is the most exciting moment in your story. It is when your protagonist finally gets it. The puzzle pieces fall into place. He realize what must do to win the conflict and adjust his actions accordingly?

The Second Half of the Second Act

The second half of the second act is where your character shifts out of the reactive phase (in which the conflict is being controlled by the antagonist) and moves into the active phase (in which he starts taking control for himself). He learned the truth at the midpoint, and it’s allowing him to start implementing the correct actions to get the desired results in his quest for the plot goal.

All those lessons your protagonist thinks he’s how got a handle on? Well, turns out he’s only got half of a handle on them. He may have figured out the truth; but he still hasn’t relinquished the lie – and the lie is still the crux of the problem.

The second half of the second act beings with a strong action form the protagonist, based on his midpoint revelation. It also features your character moving forward confidently, taking control of the conflict. You have to assemble your story’s playing pieces, so they’re in place for the third act.

The second half of the second act features a second pinch point which emphasizes the antagonist “ability” to defeat the protagonist and foreshadow the final battle.

6 Parts of the Character Arc of the Second Half of the Second Act

1. Allow the character to act in enlightened ways: your character now has the tools he needs to act in a way that be uncharacteristic in the beginning but help me now. Specifically, this means he now has a new tool to work with, will allow him to make more significant progress toward the thing he wants.
Now your character can start moving past obstacles with greater speed. He’s just more efficient at eliminating or sidestepping the obstacles.
2. Trap the character between the old lie and the new truth: possible the most important thin to understand about this section of the story is that the character has not yet relinquished his lie. The midpoint has brought him to on understanding of the truth, and he’s busy acting on it. But he has yet to face the lie. Because of this, he’s trapped between two incompatible beliefs. This will course him to make mistakes. He’s acting on the truth, but the lie is holding him back. One minute he acts on the truth; the next, the lie rears its warty head, and he tries to act on it instead.
3. Intimidate the character’s attempts to escape the effects of the lie: the character is starting to feel more and more uncomfortable with the lie’s effects in his life. The truth is seducing him in all its sparkly glory. He wins the truth. So he starts moving towards it. He’s so drawn to the truth that, in moving toward it, he may even be moving away from the thing he wants. This can be seen when a character begins to act more selflessly in the second half. 
4. Contrast your character’s “before and after” moments: we can think of the two halves of a story as a mirror images of each other. In the second half, the protagonist should be put in situations that reflect back on those in the first half. The only difference? They’re reverse images. This will give readers a dramatic representation of the progress he’s made in his personal evolution.
5. Provide your character with a false victory: the second act will end wit what, at first glance, appears to be a great big victory. The thing he wants will seem to be right within his grasp. All he has to do is reach out and take it.
The thing he wants is right there for the taking, but he’s conflicted. Taking it would enthrall him into the lie on ore and he’ll have to sacrifice the thing he needs and stifle the truth. So what does he do? He takes it convincing himself that the thing he wants won’t be an obstacle to the thing he needs. He convinces himself he can have the best of both worlds. 
However, his peace is false. He’ll have to sacrifice a deeper inner needed to gain physical victory. 
6. Blatantly demonstrate the crux of your character’s arc: before you throw your character into the maw of his personal crucible (the third act), you have to give him (and the readers) a solid validation of the truth. Spell it out. What is the thing he needs?
This can come in the form of dialogue between characters, an action on the part of the character, or internal narrative. He needs this so he can plan his defense against the lie.

Questions to Ask About Your Character’s Arc in the Second Half of the Second Act

1. How is your character starting to take control of the conflict after the midpoint?
2. How is the revelation at the midpoint allowing your character to see the conflict in a new light?
3. What “tools” has the midpoint revelation given your character that make him more effective in confrontation the antagonist?
4. How is your character still clinging to his lie?
5. How is his new truth causing friction with the truth?
6. How is your character still out of sync with the truth?
7. How does your character’s mindset still support the lie?
8. How do his actions demonstrate his growing belief in the truth?
9. How can you use a “before and after” scene to prove your character’s indifferent from who he was at the beginning of the story?
10. What false victory will end the second act? How has your character compromised the truth in order to (seemingly) gain the truth he wants?
11. How have you blatantly demonstrated the truth somewhere in the second half of the second act?

The Third Plot Point

The third plot point is the low point in your story. Is when the characters thinks he has the truth figure out, and he seems to have pushed lie to the back of his life. The “happily ever after” sonata.

Before the story can end, the lie has to reappear front and center and confront the protagonist head on. That’s what the third plot point is all about.this moment will force the character to stop deceiving himself about the lie. He has to confront it and destroy it or be destroyed.

The Third Plot Point

After the apparent victory that closed the second act, the third plot point now forces a crisis in both the character’s act and the plot.

The protagonist through he had the antagonist down for the court, but has an extra move under his sleeve. Usually this reversal is accompanied by a completely unexpected revelation.

Usually this revelation will be a plot twist, but often it will be nothing more than a sudden and full understanding of the protagonist’s lie – empowered weakness. This lays your protagonist up for a final blow and he’s so stunned he can’t even fight back.

The Ultimate Choice Between Want and Need

In plot terms, the third plot point is all about creating a “physical” moment in which the protagonist plot goal are endangered. In characters terms, the third plot point hinges tu point not just “something bag” happening in the other conflict,  but rather an inner choice on the protagonist’s part.

After two story arcs he has to choice between the thing he wants and a the thing he needs. He’s convinced he can have both. Now he realizes that’s impossible.

At this point it has tot be soul-wrenching choice. What’re the protagonist decides here, he will loose something vital. He can either choose the truth or his dream.

The Old Self Dies

He chooses the truth. He chooses to reject the lie. He won’t allow himself to live by his false belief anymore. He will embrace the truth and do the right thing, even if it means loosing the thing he wants. After the third plot point, he won’t be able to go back and change his mind in order to gain in the thing he wants. All bridges are burned.

The third plot point will often feature actual death, either literally or symbolically. The death has to come organically to your story.

Questions to Ask About Your Character’s Arc in the Third Plot Point

1. What crushing event/revelation turns your character apparent success into the worst defeat yet?
2. How was the defeat enabled by the character’s refusal, thus far, to completely reject his lie?
3. How does this defeat force your character to face the true ramifications of the lie? 
4. How this defeat offer the character a clear path toward the thing he wants?
5. If he takes this path, who will it force him to reject the thing he needs?
6. How can you set up a clear and decided choice between the thing he wants an the thing he needs?
7. Which will he choose?
8. How can you literally or symbolically represent death in the scene as a way of reinforcing the demise of your character’s lie-empowered old self?

The Third Act

Character’s arc in the third act are all about intensity. On the story’s exterior, the conflict is heating up. The protagonists is a runway train thundering toward what has now become an inevitable confrontation with the antagonist force. But on the inside he’s reeling.

The third plot point sucker-punched him something horrible came out of the blue and knocked him woozy. But most important of all: this event revealed his progress in his character arc when he reflexively lashed out and acted on the truth, instead of his lie. In doing so, his very well may have shoved the thing he wants right out of reach.

On its exterior, the third act is all about your character’s scrambling to regain his balance before he has to force the antagonist in the climax. But within your character’s interior, the third act, is all about him figuring out if he really wants to serve the truth after all. Is it worth the price he just paid? Is he ever going to return to his life of safety in the lie, this is going to be his last chance.

4 Parts of the Character Arc in the Third Act

These points will be spread through the first half of the third act and will evolve piece by piece as opposed to entirely all at once.

1. Up the stakes: the character has a to deal with the aftermath. And it’s pretty gruesome. He just threw away all his work toward the thing he wants. 
The third plot point stuck or knife in the character’s back. This s where you give it a little twist.
Up the stakes. If the character is emotionally miserably, why not make him physically miserable too?
Don’t make it easy for him to come to the conclusion that acting on the truth was really the best thing he could have done for himself.
Let him wallow in his misery for just a bit. And then have him stand up. The character must choose between surrender to his pain or rising to continue to fight.

2. Keep the character off balance: the important thing here is that the character has claimed the truth, but he still hasn’t 100% rejected the lie. 
He will continue to face doubts, and those doubts are keeping the character form being completely fulfilled or completely effective in his new truth-driven life. He is off-balance and unhappy, still not completely certain he made the right choice earlier.

3. Prove how far the character has come: even thought he might feel like he hasn’t made any progress, he’s made tremendous progress since the beginning of the story. He will dramatically prove I t in the climax, but you should be reinforcing the changes, in smaller ways, throughout the third act.
One way to do this is to create an instance in which your character can reject the lie in a physical way.

4. Renew the attack upon the character’s new paradigm: prior of the climax, the character’s new paradigm of truth should come under a penultimate assault. In this instance, this new attack will be initiated by a character other than the main protagonist. The attack might come form a minor antagonist, a skeptical or fearful ally, or from the protagonist’s own thoughts.
The point of this attack is to batter the protagonist’s doubts about the truth. The lie should be reinforced in convincing and attractive terms. If only the protagonist would go back to the lie, surely he would’ve a better chance of winning the battle or maybe even avoiding it all together. The protagonist shakes his head, rejecting the bad advice, but is tempted.

Questions to Ask About Your Character’s Arc in the Third Act

1. How does the character react to the TPP?
2. How has his embrace of the truth made a mess of his life and, specifically, his pursuit of his plot goal?
3. How can you up the stakes by forcing him physical and emotional straits?
4. How do these straits force your character’s to reconsider whether or not the truth is the right choice for him?
5. How does he rise form his doubts determined about the truth?
6. What doubts is the character still experiencing about the truth?
7. How is his inability to completely rejecting the lie preventing from total happiness and empowerment?
8. How are your character’s attitudes and actions different in the third act than they were in the first? How can you subtly reinforce the difference prior to the climax?
9. How will your character’s devotion to the truth be put the test? What character or situations will you use to try to attempt or bully your protagonist’s into serving you lie?

The Climax

The climax is the reason of the story. This is where the author reveals what the journey the character just endured was really about. Most importantly the climax reveals or proves where your character has changed.

Now approximately halfway through the third act, the conflict has reeves to the point where a confrontation must happen between the protagonists and antagonist. If the protagonist s to prove he is able to win the conflict, he must prove he is able to stick with the truth for along haul.

The climax brings the primary conflict to a resolution in a way that fulfills the book’s every promise, while still surprising readers in pleasant ways, because not every bit of what happens is what they could have predicted.

Timing the Final Rejection of the Lie: Your Character Believes

Rejecting the Lie in the Climax

Placing the renewed attack and the final rejection of the lie and embrace of the truth in tour climax allows you to harmonize your exterior and interior conflicts. It also the stake and the tensions. Readers sit on the edges of their seats, because they know that the character can’t complete his arc right now. The problem would be harmonizing of the two conflicts for you won’t have the space to logically complete your character’s arc at the same time as he’s battling the antagonist.

Rejecting the Lie Before the Climax

Depending on your story’s pacing, you may decide your best choice is to have your characters face and defeat his lie for this final time before he charges into the climax. At this moment, your character will reject the last remnants of doubt about the lie and step forward the claim the truth. He is the completely center and completely empowered to face the antagonist.

This moment start when your character has finally rejected he lie completely.

The Climactic Moment

The climactic moment is the climax within the climax. It’s the single moment that resolves the story’s overall conflict. In identifying the climactic moment look fort he scene your readers have been waiting for from the beginning of the story. The bad guys dies. The hero posses the conflict ends because the protagonist has finally and conclusively destroyed the antagonists force. The obstacle between him and his goal disappears.

This transforms him into someone who no longer wishes for the thing he wants. Or he may still want the thing he wants but acknowledge he can’t have it alongside the thing he needs.

Questions to Ask About Climax

1. How does the protagonist proves he’s a change character in the climax?
2. Does the renewed attack on his truth happen before or after the climax? What are the pacing challenges or both?
3. How does the character’s final embrace of the truth enable his victory in the exterior conflict?
4. Does he fully embrace the thing he needs to defeat the antagonist?
5. How does he use the thing he needs to defeat the antagonist?
6. Does he gain the thing he wants?
7. How has his view on the thing he wants changed? Does he still want it?

The Resolution

The important ending scene is there to booked the opening scene. Contrast how your character use to live in his normal world as shaped by his lie and show readers the new normal world that has been built by the character’s hard won truth.

The resolution has to fulfill two primary duties in finishing off your character’s arc. The first of those duties is to provide an answer to the thematic question that was raised in the stories beginning. The second is giving reader’s a glimpse of your character’s lie-free life.

The Thematic Question

Your stories thematic question wold be base on your character’s inner battle between the lie and the truth.

Find away to blatantly state the answer to your thematic question – if not through the character’s interactions with each other and the setting, then at least through dialogue.

The Character’s New Normal

Now that the conflict has been resolved what will the character do next? How will he act now that he’s changed? These changes are best portrayed through contrast of his old lie base word on his new normal life-free world.

Question’s to Ask About Your Character’s Arc in the Resolution

1. How does your resolution contrast your story’s beginning?
2. How does your resolution mirror your story’s beginning?
3. How is the character’s new normal world different from the original one?
4. Does the character return to his old normal world?
5. How does your resolution answer your story’s thematic question?
6. How can you state the answer to your thematic question in dialogue without making it seem like a “moral of the story”?
7. How does your character act differently in the resolution from how he did at the beginning of the story?

My rating:

This book in 3 key points

1. Know your character in an out.
2. Define his journey from zero to hero.
3. Give your character a ghost that will transform him.  


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