Using Character To Produce Frame And Arc

I’m actually about a week behind and am just now getting to last week’s assignment, but better late than never, right? Anyway, class session Number Four tackles the all-important character arc and structure of the narrative.

Wattpad’s own Bruce Elgin ( covered a plethora of information on the subject, and insight related to them. Thus far, this has been the most fascinating and insight week. I hope you enjoy it.

But first, an overview:


-Structure (the Hero’s Journey)

-Character Arc

-The Backwards Pass

Plot v Structure

-Plot happens (every story must have plot)

-Structure organizes the plot

-Contrary to popular belief, structure is NOT formula

 Classical Structure (Archplot)

-Protagonist must have a clear goal

-A beginning, midpoint and clear end

-Popular with many readers

-(Prior to starting a writing project, especially a novel, it can be helpful to use said structure as a basis of an outline. And as a recent blog from Chuck Wendig pointed out, outlining is a good skill to have anyway because if you ever pitch an idea to an editor or publisher, they’re going to ask for a synopsis of your story. And outlining doesn’t stifle one’s creativity; it’s merely a starting point. A reference guide. This is saying a lot coming from me, as I’m what you’d call a panster, but I’m willing to try outlining, and I may be doing so shortly if I end up doing NaNoWriMo next month.)

Minimalist and Anti-Structure

-Differing presentation/structure

-Ambiguous resolutions

-Popular in short stories, though this doesn’t mean it isn’t present in longer works

This brings us to sequence writing, which features:

-Mini-stories within each reel (film)/sequence, leading to cliffhanger endings and structure WITHIN structure

-Each sequence in Act Two (usually the midpoint, but this isn’t always the case,) is an attempt to solve the problem or reach their goal. But the protagonist fails at this, creating a bigger or increasingly drastic necessary attempt. They will stop at NOTHING to achieve they goals. This escalation brings forth another crucial element: Rising Action. Things keep getting bigger because THEY HAVE TO.

-Every Act can have a beginning, middle and an end. I think I’d like to attempt writing in this way, actually!

Character Arc

-Brings exterior plot and interior change together

-Desire leads to outer goal

-Need leads to an inner thwarting/flaw that needs to change (i.e., your protagonist recognizes the flaw within themselves and seek change) which can be connected to the plot, your character, or both. Personally, I think scenes that propel the two forward simultaneously work best.

-Not all characters change

-Character arc is all about your protagonist changing from a person hobbled by her/his interior problem to moving beyond it. The hero either grows or is torn down throughout the tale. There is no middle ground.

But how do you show change?

-Through actions and choices

-Using the Hero’s Journey, for it’s all about the journey, isn’t it?

Causality is defined as “the relationship between cause and effect,” or “the principle that everything has a cause.” In essence, causality is the connective tissue that holds the plot together.

In this subtopic, we learn that every story demands causality, not random events, which is a lack of causality

-Causality chains: starting at Point A, to B, to C and so fourth to Z. In a side note, if one’s so inclined, and if you envision the culmination in your mind, you can start thinking about how the events might unfold from the end and work your way to the beginning. This is called The Backwards Pass. Now, I’m not suggesting you try writing in this fashion, but it would be a great way to outline your work. I’d never heard of this technique and I don’t know that it would work for me, being a proud panster, but it’s certainly interesting. You never know though, I might give it a go someday. 🙂

Last but of equal importance is the following little tidbit:

Trust The Writing

-Have faith in every stage of writing–the all-important planning, writing, editing and re-writing

-You can and should be creative and change anything at any time

-Have fun!

For the assignment on character arc and frame, we’re asked to write a scene where two characters are reunited after many years. Their estrangement can be under any circumstances. However, we’re asked to describe the same scene from the POV of both parties. We’re also to mention a third character, but he/she cannot be seen on the page; they’re only mentioned. Maximum word count is 1200 words.

I will be starting it tomorrow and as a token of my appreciation to all of my followers of Flaggfan, I’ll be posting the finished product here. Would any of you be interested in reading it and would you be willing to give me constructive criticism? This isn’t a deciding factor, I’m just curious, though I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. I’ll catch you in the comments section.


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