How to Make Your Character’s Choices More Difficult

One of the best things about conflict is that it pushes your characters to act. In every scene, your characters are making choices—big ones and small ones and thereby steering their fate. Some decisions will be obvious and require little to no thought, but others will be muddier, with no clear “better” option, generating inner […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Mage Arc: Evil and the Weakness of Humankind

It is appropriate that the final archetypal character arc of the life cycle—the Mage Arc—should be the one to finally confront the ultimate antagonist within the human experience. This is, of course, Evil—in all its abstraction. As the final arc, the Mage symbolizes the end of life and, presumably, its fulfillment. Because the Mage is […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Crone Arc: Death Blight and Tempter

As the fifth of six archetypal character arcs in the life cycle, the Crone Arc offers the first great challenge of a character’s Elder years. Fundamentally, it is a story about a character coming to grips with the full magnitude of mortality. And indeed Death itself is the primary archetypal antagonist within a Crone Arc—or […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the King Arc: Cataclysm and Rebel

The King Arc begins the second half of the life cycle of archetypal character arcs. This placement as the fourth of six arcs necessarily makes it a turning point within the overarching “story structure” of life. We can recognize this particularly in the King’s relationship to his archetypal antagonists. The first three arcs—those of Maiden, […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Queen Arc: Invader and Empty Throne

As the third of the life cycle’s archetypal character arcs, the Queen Arc is that of the mature adult who has completed the youthful arcs of Hero and Maiden and is now challenged to grow into a position of greater responsibility and leadership. This is the tale of someone who has so far proven herself […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Hero Arc: Dragon and Sick King

The well-known Hero Arc offers us the exciting story of a brave youth fighting to discover and earn his own worthiness. It follows on the heels of the Maiden Arc‘s initial individuation from the Authority Figures that dominate one’s youth, and it offers the young adult the opportunity to discover what he is meant to […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Maiden Arc: Authority and Predator

As the first transformational archetype within the “life arcs” cycle, the Maiden Arc is the quintessential “coming-of-age” story. It is the story of teenage angst, the joys and heartbreaks of growing up, and the struggle to individuate into a fully autonomous and mature human being. Like all arcs, the Maiden’s doesn’t just happen. Nor (for […]

Archetypal Antagonists for Each of the Six Archetypal Character Arcs

Antagonists are an interesting consideration for any writer. So often, when we conceive or plot a story, the antagonist may be an afterthought—especially in genre or “plot-driven” fiction in which the antagonist is less likely to be in a relationship with the protagonist and more likely to be a “Big Bad” of some sort. But […]

How the Antagonist Functions in Different Types of Character Arcs

Most of the time when we think about a story’s antagonist, we simply think of the “bad guy.” The antagonist is the character (or force) that opposes the protagonist’s forward progression in pursuit of the main plot goal. This is fundamental plot theory, linked to the old saw about “no conflict, no plot.” The antagonist […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 23: Summary of the Archetypal Character Arcs

This post (as the final one in our series) is intended as an easy reference that lists comparisons of the archetypal Positive-Change Arcs, so you can see them all in one place. Each of the individual posts on the specific archetypes does, of course, go into much more depth and offers much more information. But […]