How do I create a character arc?

Creating a character in Books and Movies, I believe, it should be made in three structural procedures. The three structural procedure gives the character a full circle to a particular point of being completion of character saga whether it is the lead protagonist / antagonist or a supporting role.

Every storytelling form has their own charm of speaking about characters it can be positive and negative which has been existing since art of storytelling existed since mankind civilization.

If you make a movie or write a story without a proper character arc of the lead, the art form becomes useless with exceptions like the movie Dunkirk. Character arc is important when the character needs to be developed through a certain phase of years or certain amount of time. This development is needed. Needed to feel for the character personally either to sentiments to support the character or dislike the characters villainous nature.

To continue my discussion, I will take a very popular character, as part of my answer, is Luke Skywalker from Star Wars Original Trilogy movies not the Sequel Trilogy’s Character.

Very shortly, I will discuss about further characters, for the time being I am sticking to discuss about Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: A New Hope.

Anatomy of the First Structure: Introduction to Luke Skywalker, Supporting Characters and World Building

When we were introduced to Luke Skywalker in the movie, he was a whiny and a very annoying kid who is in his late teens living with his Uncle and Aunt. Just like the way we were in our teenage days, we all used to annoy our elders or parents or guardian and dream about adventure to get out from the daily chores and make a mark on our own.. He is a simple farm boy who is not at all involved in the ongoing events of tyranny by the Imperial Regime in the Galaxy.

He has dreams to achieve even though it is limited to going to the Academy with his friends for which his Uncle Owen objects and Luke leaves the dining room. On the other hand, his Aunt Beru, says, “Luke is just not a farmer. He has too much of his father in him.” For which Uncle Owen replies, “That’s what I am afraid of”. This pivotal moment we learn how a parental figure worries and cares about their child and subsequent scene at the Tattoine where Luke looks at the Binary sunset which gives him the feel of hopelessness of being a prisoner. In this particular point, we see a major shift in storyline and his journey of character development begins which does not end until the ending scene in the ‘Return of the Jedi’.

Later we see him, making acquaintance with Obi Wan Kenobi as Mentee, due to a certain holographic message sent through a droid R2-D2, who was captured by the Jawas and sold it to Uncle Owen with a bargain. Along with R2-D2, they also brought C3PO, a protocol droid who was a long acquaintance to R2-D2 in their misadventures. Princess Leia before being imprisoned by Imperial Regime led by Tarkin and Darth Vader, she sent an encrypted message through R2-D2 to rescue her from the Battle-station, and guide them to defeat the Imperial Monarchy as the data has been implanted into R2-D2’s memory for the destruction of the Battle Station. Initially, Princess Leia and her rebel group were involved in a heist of stealing the blue print of the Death Star and find a weakness which will help the cause for the rebellions to strike against the imperial regime.

Luke is fascinated to see Obi Wan as he tells him about Luke’s father being a warrior and fought side by side together and teams up with him after he sees the fate of his Uncle and Aunt met their tragic end who were killed by the stormtroopers. This moment, when he utters to Obi Wan, “There’s nothing for me here, now! I want to learn…” This portion of the dialogue gives the character an important position of ,‘I have nothing to lose. My loved ones are gone. I will take what my life has to offer.

Anatomy of the Second Structure: Learning, Meeting with New People, Capture and Rescue and Escape

The emotional arc develops in the moment and ends with a grief, we attach ourselves to the character as he, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C3PO and R2D2 teams up with Pilots of the star-ship, Millenium Falcon, Han Solo and Chewbacca. He learns the ways of the ‘Force’ to become a warrior like Jedi for a brief period to defeat the imperial regime which continues in the movie Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. They rescue Princess Leia and escape from the Battle station with the star-ship after getting captured by the Imperial Forces with the loss of Obi-Wan Kenobi killed by Darth Vader which creates the basis for revenge in the movie and his emotional arc gets extended in the movie, “Empire Strikes Back”.

Anatomy of the Third Structure: Grief over Obi Wan Kenobi, Back to Rebel Base with Princess, Meeting and Strategy, Attack on Death Star and Part of the Larger Worldly Affairs

After the loss of Obi Wan Kenobi during the escape from Death Star, Luke cries over the loss of his newly formed mentor. In the midst of all, they are being tracked by a Tracking Beam, implanted by the imperials while they were being captured and followed till the rebel base. Later, we see Luke is more combative, he sheds of his annoying character and he is not the whiny or irritating character anymore. He takes part in the Rebel Meeting where they discuss about the weakness of the point where the battle station is fragile of one single blast to blow it all. We see him confidently take over the pilot’s seat along with other 29 fighter pilots for X-Wing to get ready for the aerial dogfight. Luke becomes a prominent person to win the victory for the rebels by destroying the Death Star with the exception of Darth Vader, who gets side-lined due to minor but a crucial attack by Han Solo on the enemy star ship – TIE Fighter.

Finally, Luke becomes part of the larger world and feels more connected to people. He is not the teenage kid anymore. He is matured and has learnt the ways of the worldly. And becomes a worthy and an important member for the rebel’s cause. A world in which he now believes worth fighting for.

The above example is quite important to understand how a character builds. I know, there are much better characters with complex character arcs but for starters Luke Skywalker’s character is the most important to understand how to build characters.

***I will further discuss about many character arcs. My discussion will involve characters from cinema, literature and folk-lores.

15 thoughts on “How do I create a character arc?

      1. Yes. World building is necessary but it will be more prevalent if you make the world building through the eyes of the protagonist and the antagonist which makes it an interesting contrast. For example, Princess Mononoke movie.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s a pleasure for me that I have been of help to you. And also try to make the character development more prominent which helps to move the story. Make the protagonist’s view as a wonder and saviour and the antagonist have the realist view of the world. A realism Vs fantasy which actually helps the story move.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you very much! My story has been very character-centered from the very beginning. It’s only a matter of execution now, I guess. I tend to overthink things. : ) Have a lovely Christmas.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Welcome, Emily. I wish you too a lovely Christmas. That’s very good but I would suggest make the protagonist’s view point as equal to your own view point of the worldly things which I mostly use while writing a short story. Overthinking is good it helps you to think about alternatives to the storyline. Currently, I am working on a corporate play with the view point of the employees after the CEO of the company escapes into some unknown country and the effect it falls on the employees being harassed by the Government Authorities.

        Liked by 1 person

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