Sunday, May 25, 2008

Character Arc and Fantasy Plot - Part 1

Every successful story has a beginning and an end, while what happens in between follows a defined course to become the plot. For an epic or fantasy plot there is one basic style of plot arc that has proved popular and we will discuss this Quest plot arc here.

Quest: The plot arc for fantasy begins with the hero discovering a quest. The reasons for this vary from personal determination, to responsibility for saving the world from disaster. Since the characters involved take the journey, their character development is intrinsic to the plot evolution.

Character Arc: Type One Two main types of character development form the basis of most epic plot arcs. There is the radical character change, where the hero begins his quest as one type of person, develops through conflict to become the opposite type of person at the conclusion. Think of a timid hero, thrust into danger, who makes heroic decisions through determination and resolve and realizes, that they have the moral fiber to save the world. Conversely, consider the dark hero who through circumstance embraces compassion. Their character offers the same type of radical development.

Character Arc: Type Two The second character arc is defined by more subtle developments, where the hero finds the strength to accept challenges, but retains his original persona. Here the timid hero might stumble through misadventure after misadventure, until he finds the courage to over come the problem and achieve his goal, but he reverts to his original character once the tension eases. Or the dark reformed hero reverts back to the dangerous combatant to achieve a result, but the alteration is only temporary. The hero adapts but doesn't make a permanent change in this type of character arc.

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