Character Arc

  • A character arc is the transformation that a character experiences throughout a narrative. A character may begin with a certain viewpoint, but through challenges and conflicts, their viewpoint changes him/her. Characters undergo emotional or psychological growth leading to a transformation as a dynamic character.

  • The character's conflict, either internal or external, is what drives tension in the story. By characters having certain weaknesses that they have to overcome, authors are able to use these shortcomings as a roadblock or obstacle to overcome. Stories can end tragically when the character goes from a high position to a low position, or stories can end positively with a character starting in a lower position and elevating his social standing or success in some way.

    • Types of Conflict


    • Person vs. Himself/Herself


    • Person vs. Fate/God

    • Person vs. Person

    • Person vs. Nature

    • Person vs. Society/Institution

    • Person vs. Science/Technology

    • Person vs. Supernatural

Types of Characters

Round character: a character that has many different sides to his or her personality.

Flat character: a character that is static and doesn't change at all in the story. The character is often stereotypical or a caricature of an archetypal pattern we see in society or literature.

Static character: a static character, either round or flat, that doesn't grow in his or her mindset throughout the course of a narrative

Dynamic character: a dynamic character is a round character who grows in his or her mindset throughout the course of a narrative, perhaps through some sort of epiphany or event that causes them to change in some way


Authors will develop characters in different ways through....

Indirect characterization: Indirect characterization reveals the personality of the character.

  • speech

  • thoughts

  • effect on others

  • actions

  • appearance

Direct characterization: direct characterization is what it sounds like: the narrator telling the reader an opinion about a character in the narration of the story, such as "He was an unruly, boisterous boy who had no regard for manners."

Character’s Motivations

Characters need to have a reason behind their behaviors and actions. Motivations can relate to external needs that relate to survival, or they could be more psychological or even existential needs, such as love or ambition.

Questions to consider:

How has the author developed the character's motivations? Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.