Character Arcs

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, a quick reminder that Get Repped Now! is almost upon us. It starts on 3/13. So polish those scripts! We’ll be dropping our panel around March 2nd. It’s a doozy.

With that in mind, let’s talk about character.

Does your character arc? Or are they the same person at the end that they were at the beginning?

Now look, if you have a shoot-em-up actioner, often there is no real arc for your protagonist. However, you also probably won’t break into this business with a shoot-em-up action programmer these days. What agents and managers want to see is someone who can craft a three-dimensional, living, breathing protagonist who evolves because of what they experience in the script. And that is most certainly what actors want as well. (Hey, that’s not to say they won’t do the programmers—it’s a paycheck after all. Ahem, Liam Neeson.)

So if you want to wow the powers-that-be, make sure your character changes because of the events in your story.

What do we mean by that? For example, the meek protagonist afraid to speak up for themselves is able to do just that at the end of the script. Let’s say we see the timid employee get abused by his boss at the beginning, and then the events of your story teach your protagonist that he can and should stand up to bullies. Then the final scene might be the put-upon employee telling his boss to go shove it.

Depending on your genre, maybe your protagonist foils a bank robbery or slays a dragon or finally tells off their abusive father—they learn that they can speak their truths, and at the end of the script, we bookend it and show that they can now do what they couldn’t at the beginning.

Now it doesn’t necessarily have to be this clear-cut. Let’s face it, it’s a lot closer to reality if we want to or would need to change but simply don’t. There are some movies that do that very well. UP IN THE AIR and YOUNG ADULT come to mind. However, even there we have an arc… it’s simply a failed one. The events of the story make them want to change, they try to change, but at the end, they fall back into their old behavior patterns (albeit, maybe a little more matured).

If you want to wow ‘em, arc ‘em.


As you already know, we’re always here for questions (and the answers are free).


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