Writing for Game Design, Comics and Novels 101 – Character Arcs

Hello, my name is Mark, and this is an Amazing Gaming Productions Writing Advice Blog.

I am the game developer of Tales from Trinity City and the author of Webtastic Stories. Today, I am sharing my knowledge of character arcs with you.

Every person’s life is a story, and this is why you should journal every day – you can learn about your mental outlook and see the patterns and limiting beliefs that hold you back – that way you can create the same kind of story for your characters.

Every character in your story has their personal story, and you’re telling them. The more you look at the positive, static and negative character arcs, the better you get at telling them.

Every character, and every life can be summed up in these three ideas.

People either climb out of bad places filled with lies, stand for their truths and inspire others, or fall for great lies or tragic truths!

The reason people resonate with the Joker Movie, we have gone unhinged at some point.

And we all know times where a mistake we made cost us dearly, so we resolved to do better, like Peter Parker after Uncle Ben died because of his inaction.

And we are all inspired by great characters like Command Shepard, who always understood he needed to unique the galaxy to defeat the Reapers.

These three characters show the breadth of human experience, the Joker a negative character arc, Peter Parker’s positive character arc, and Shepard’s static character arc.

Once upon a time, I bought all the Internet conspiracy theories, the Illuminati, 9/11 was an inside job, the Satanic baby blood-sucking vampire demon, and much more.

Always, in the back of my mind, I asked myself, are they correct. Maybe these theories are wrong. They would happen most of the time while I was in prayer. Perhaps something was giving me an invitation to grow and change?

Prayer is important, trust me.

I wanted to fight these invaders who were destroying my world, and I would continue to fight for 14 years.

Trump’s presidency was a turning point for me. I started to see how things didn’t change with him, despite all the gossip saying he would.

I realized that people were wrong about things – video games they said were awful aren’t bad. I had a moment of truth; I had to make the changes I wanted to see in the world!

The emperor has no clothes. Every influencer doesn’t want to solve any problem, it would be unprofitable.

I learned about writing, including character arcs written by one blogger, KM Weiland. That online connection eventually helped me realize something; I was on a positive character arc to build my life by being my King.

I stumbled a bit as I fought the “Invaders” of cancel culture, including allying myself with the wrong people.

Things came crashing down as I decided to sever ties with the wrong people. I had one hell of a summer in 2021. But I knew I was going to make it through this dark moment in my life.

You have created every problem you face, so you have the ability to fix it – it’s all up to you.

But in the end, I didn’t strike out, I continued to build my Kingdom and accepted the truth; I am the only person who can create my life.

Why did I tell you my story? Because this shows a positive character arc. I went from believing every conspiracy theory, allowing people to tell me how to live and then I seized my agency by rejecting the lies that held me back.

Positive character arcs show progression – from believing lies that hold you/or your protagonist back to learning an important truth that lets you overcome the antagonist in that story.

Anyone can start to come out from the lies that hold them back, they only need to recognize how destructive they are and create new strategies and a new life.

The element for a positive character arc is to answer these questions –

  • What is the lie the character believes?
  • What desires have these lies inspired?
  • What wound does the character have?
  • What is the need for this character?
  • How will this need change his life?
The most significant action Arthur can take to own his life is the last action he takes – He chooses to protect John Marsden instead of going after the money!

The lie sets the MC’s motivation – this is why they do it.

Arthur Morgan believed Dutch’s plans and the gang would help him escape his past and mistakes. He became very loyal to Dutch and the boys to the point of his harm. Arthur is trying to escape the memory of his lost wife and child, who have been gone for decades.

Arthur needs to seize his destiny and reject being one of Dutch’s boys, and he will experience freedom and harmony with his fellow man!

Where Positive Character Arcs are all about Man vs Himself, because we are overcoming our faults, Static Character Arcs is all about man vs the world!

The people in your world believe lies – like how many people needlessly waste their life on social media gossip. The problem is only grown; people engage in risky-real-world events now. Despite the negative consequences, the addicts continue to engage in online arguments to prove their point.

When people take social media politics so seriously, they engage in riots, burn down town and invade Capitol buildings, maybe the world needs to rethink things.

Someone has to acknowledge and fight for the truth, social media gossip is turning our lives upside down, and we need to stop trying to destroy each other. There is no Illuminati, White Supremacy, Patriarchy, demons, or communists threatening our world, so stop complaining!

We can recognize the stories of people who inspire others by simply being themselves. These confident people go out in life, being an example for others!

From a child to an adult, Aloy has only inspired people with her intelligence, compassion and determination.

Aloy always believed in herself, worked hard, showed compassion for those who needed it, and steadfastness against her opponents. Her character content was consistent through Horizon: Zero Dawn, and it also looks like she has the same character in Horizon: Forbidden West – she understands what is at stake and works to make the world better!

Static Characters are heroes who never back down, understanding truths about themselves that help the world find great peace.

In a Static Character Arc –

  • What lies hold the world back?
  • What truth does the MC believe?
  • How will other people respond to the MC – both negatively and positively?

The lies that hold the Horizon world back is their primitive ways. They exist alongside a vastly superior technological world, but they have no clue or understanding of that world.

Aloy brings the truth of scientific and technical pursuit, insatiable curiosity, logic and compassion.

Aloy inspires others to work with her to solve these mysteries, while others want her dead because she inspires people, complicating their goals!

I have a rare condition called high sensitivity; it only affects 3 out of 1000 people. When I was a child, I always stood out, and people would tease me for being different.

My emotions were overwhelming at times, so I kept on running from my problems. I allowed the pain to discourage me from anything to avoid the anguish of being around people who hated me!

I let the lies almost take my life on several occasions. Finally, I graduated from high school until my early 20s because I was in so much pain.

Negative Character Arcs involve many of the same concepts of positive character arcs but in the opposite order.

Negative Character Arcs are tragic tales that give us a moment of pause – have we allowed limiting beliefs destroy us?

Disillusionment arcs are stories where the character accepts a dark truth that destroys them – like Arthur Fleck in the Joker movie.

Fall arcs are about a great hero becoming a great villain – like Anakin Skywalker.

Corruption arcs are about dishonest people who keep lying to themselves and others, leading to even greater lies that destroy them and the people around them. Max White in Webtastic Stories did whatever it took for “Fame, Clout, and Money!”

Whether lies destroy you as you fall, or lies keep corrupting you until you are only evil, or a tragic truth brings great darkness in your life – negative character arcs are always end tragically.

The vital element for a negative character arc is to answer these questions –

  • What is the lie the character believes?
  • What desire does this lie inspire?
  • What wound does the character have?
  • What is the need for this character?
  • How will this need change his life?
Renegade Shepard doesn’t believe any alien will help humanity, so he eliminates anything in the way of the mission. This dangerous attitude ultimately destroys the Earth because he doesn’t work with the council races.

Renegade Shepard believes the mission is much more important than all the lives they are destroying. By killing anything in their way, they lead a fractured galaxy into a war against the Reapers, dooming his home, Earth!

I included some of the events in my life to show why character arcs are essential. Everyone is learning new things, changing their views, and sometimes we fall into destructive rabbit holes harming ourselves and others, and other times you need to be steadfast to inspire others to be their best!

Learning about these paths will help you create stories about people on these different paths. It will give realism and agency to your characters, whether the agency is towards lies or the truth – making them imperfect.

Thanks for taking your time out to read this blog.

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Have a great day!

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