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Character arc

Characters face obstacles, which help shape their character arc. We are compelled by watching character transformation, and obstacles kickstart that growth and change. Authentic stories require characters to overcome challenges, leading to a more satisfying resolution.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user cuentaburocratica344
    At one of the story artist says that obstacles make the bettter version of a character, but what if instead of make the better version of them, the obstacles makes the worst?

    PD: Sorry for my English wich is not that good
    (34 votes)
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  • starky seedling style avatar for user aqwllius
    You know what, if you know the anime One Punch Man, it sorts of to never has a challenge. The main character never evolves, and just straight away becomes powerful and the goals and arc doesn't ever change. What kind of story would you say this is?
    (15 votes)
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    • duskpin seedling style avatar for user  🌸 Ŧl๏гค 🌸
      I think that that type of character would be classified as a static character(one that remains practically the same personality/goals/side-wise the entire series) and the show in it self might not be that interesting unless there is some sort of an inter-layer built up, I have not watched the show so I don't really know how that built up would be included.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user DayveonA
    There actually is such a thing as a negative character arc. But normally this is the villain's arc... he or she ends up worse off in the end, unless they are redeemed. A main character (at least a good main character) usually ends up better than before, having learned an important lesson.
    Although there are a few instances where a book has had a negative character arc that /wasn't/ a villain's arc.
    One example would be the Great Gatsby, where at the end (if you've read the book you'll probably agree) Jay Gatsby ends up worse off than in the beginning. The narrator, Nick, also has a negative character arc as his outlook gets just a little darker and a little more negative. He starts out very naive and excited but by the end of the book he learns about the shallowness of the glittering life he admired. He learns a valuable lesson, but not a Good one. This is called a Disillusionment Arc.
    Another example would be Star Wars Episodes 1-3... in the prequels Anakin is not considered a villain (until Ep. 3) and thus his character arc is negative as he goes from Good to Evil. This is called a Corruption Arc.
    So yes, there are negative main character arcs but they are pretty rare... a negative villain arc is much much more common.
    (13 votes)
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  • boggle yellow style avatar for user » elle «
    What the guy was saying at really reminds me of what Ian Malcolm said to John Hammond in Jurassic Park. How achieving something requires discipline, and how that discipline leads to maturity.

    '"Most kinds of power require a substantial sacrifice by whoever wants the power. There is an apprenticeship, a discipline lasting many years. Whatever kind of power you want. President of the company. Black belt in karate. Spiritual guru. Whatever it is you seek, you have to put in the time, the practice, the effort. You must give up a lot to get it. It has to be very important to you. And once you have attained it, it’s your power. It can't be given away: it resides in you. It is literally the result of your discipline.

    Now what is interesting about this process is that, by the time someone has acquired the ability to kill with his bare hands, he has also matured to the point where he won't use it unwisely. So that kind of power has a built-in control. The discipline of getting the you so that you won't abuse it.

    But scientific power is like inherited wealth: attained without discipline. You read what others have done, and you take the next step. You can do it very young. You can make progress very fast.

    There is no discipline lasting many decades. There is no mastery: old scientists are ignored. There is no humility before nature. There is only a get-rich-quick, make-a-name-for-yourself-fast philosophy.

    Cheat, lie, falsify--it doesn't matter. Not to you, or to your colleagues. No one will criticize you. No one has any standards. They all trying to do the same thing: to do something big, and do it fast.

    "And because you can stand on the shoulders of giants, you can accomplish something quickly. You don't even-know exactly what you have done, but already you have reported it; patented it, and sold it. And the buyer will have even less discipline than you. The buyer simply purchases the power, like any commodity. The buyer doesn’t even conceive that any discipline might be necessary.'
    - Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park)

    I feel like the same is true of any character; they have to do something to earn what they want. On the flip side, when they recieve something that they didn't work for, I think you could see a different side of them.
    (10 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Devon hamilton
      I am at a loss for words. This is amazing and very true! You. You have taken the time to find the script or watch the movie over and over to type all of this, and its incredible! You need a badge or something for this. I give you a 10/10 for effort, 10/10 for quoting a movie, and 11/10 for taking the time to type this! You are amazing Sarah Harding!
      (4 votes)
  • area 52 purple style avatar for user Fernandez Andrea
    They're on par, like Bob Parr. Don't you love puns, because I sure do.
    (8 votes)
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  • leafers seedling style avatar for user Katie Vevarous
    What kind of obstacle does a character have to face in a story, to raise conflict?
    (6 votes)
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  • aqualine tree style avatar for user Rihanna N
    I have a character I made, but at the end, the character isn't her better self... she's worse. (because the story is a scary story with a sad ending)
    Am I doing something wrong?
    (5 votes)
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    • duskpin tree style avatar for user Me
      For the most part, you want there to be some form of resolve at the end. I'm not really clear on the situation in your story, but usually, people enjoy watching movies and reading books because they connect with a character at the beginning and like to watch them grow. Think about a main character in a book or movie that you like and imagine what it would be like if, instead of growing as a person, they began getting worse. You would probably lose respect for that character and the film or book as well. I'm not going to insist that your character absolutely has to be better off than before because I don't like officially ruling things out in storytelling. You're not doing anything wrong-it's important to figure out for yourself what works and what doesn't rather than following the usual accepted rules. That might not have helped much, but if you're really concerned about it, try plotting the story twice, having the character improve in one and worsen in the other. See which one you like better, maybe ask other people too and you'll be just fine.
      (1 vote)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Eliana Johnston
    Thanks this helps a lot!
    (4 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Akhilesh Anil
    What is the transformation in all kinds of stories?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user 2504984
    but why do they have to face it
    (3 votes)
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Video transcript

- As we discussed in the last video, a character may face many obstacles. These obstacles can prevent a character from getting what they want or achieving what they need. The choices a character makes in response to obstacles and how the character changes as a result can be referred to as character arc. - Something I like to think of is character, obstacle, goal, and the character to get to their goal has to go deal with this obstacle. The obstacles are what make them who they are, what make them change into this new person, and that really constitutes the arc. - And if you actually study a lot of the movies and stories that you read, the character starts off actually in their kind of basic form, still about to be formed, and the characters that they end up being at the end of the movie actually is their higher version. They're better. They don't get to go there unless they meet the challenges and the kind of pressure that will make them better versions of yourself. - Without obstacles, the character's just at a, you know, a flat line, and when the obstacles comes, it helps to push the character into the arc until they hit the hardest obstacle that they have to face at the climax, and then it's from there that they're able to complete their arc, so without obstacles, I don't think that the arc would even exist. - In Incredibles, we have a very clear, very external obstacle of the Omnidroid. Syndrome invites Bob over to the island and he says, "Here's this big droid. Let's see if you can test it, fight it." And Bob fights it, it's a very close battle with that first Omnidroid, but he barely beats it. It takes everything he has, but he does it. He's victorious, he feels good, but we as an audience know, okay, these guys are about on par. The next time he's invited back, the Omnidroid wins and Bob gets captured, so now we know, okay, the obstacle is bigger than the hero, and that reflects his learning arc. He needs to learn that the family is his big journey, the family's what makes him a hero. So at the end of the film, we get the Omnidroid again, but this time we have the entire family of Supers and our question is, are they as a family enough to stop this thing? Of course, the answer is yes. They're fantastic, they're The Incredibles. Nothing can stop The Incredibles. Until Incredibles 2. - So all stories have some kind of transformation, and it's really compelling to watch a transformation happen, whether it is your character, or if your character makes a transformation in the world. Sometimes a character might not have a big change, but they will impact the world around them, and that's also very interesting. - So an obstacle that a character faces, like Joy, what the character wants was to make Riley happy all the time. What happens is she falls into the memory dump. This is a major obstacle in the movie. The emotion of Joy is going to be inaccessible to Riley for good, and inside the memory dump, she plays a memory of what happens to Riley when she is challenged, and when she replays a memory, she realizes that the only reason that Riley actually is happy is because she actually goes through a phase when she was sad. Now she knows what she needs. Riley needs sadness, and now the action changes. Joy is going to move heaven and earth to make sure that sadness gets back to headquarters. More important than her own goal. She'll realize that Riley is actually much better with sadness and fear and disgust and all the other emotions in her life in order to make Riley completely happy. So when we actually watch movies wherein characters achieve something simply by just walking through a door, it doesn't feel authentic. In fact, we don't think the character deserves it. We want the characters to actually work for it, because we also know that if you get something for practically nothing, you won't value it. - [Instructor] A character's arc defines the change or transformation a character undergoes from the beginning of a story to the end. We'll explore structure further in the next lesson, but for now, in this next exercise, you'll have a chance to identify character arcs in the films you love, as well as brainstorm possible arcs for characters you want to create.