7 Growth Milestones to Build a Character Arc

From KMW: On the one hand, deciding how to build a character arc is pretty simple: the character changes, the end. On the other hand, building a character arc can often seem monumentally overwhelming. How can we possibly take so nuanced and complex an experience as personal change and convey it realistically through the events […]

Checklist for Beginning Your Story: Introducing Your Characters

Hello, everyone, and welcome! Today, we’re going to be talking about beginnings and specifically about how to introduce your characters in the beginning of your story, how to hook readers with your character, and how to set up all the important parts of your character’s development and arc that will happen in the rest of […]

What Does Your Character Want? Desire vs. Plot Goal vs. Moral Intention vs. Need

We often hear “conflict is story.” What does that mean? If we walk it back, we see that conflict is driven by opposition. That opposition stands between the characters and something they want. Therefore, we could just as easily say “desire is story.” But that isn’t always simple to figure out either, particularly since story […]

7 Tips for How to Add Complexity to Your Story

So you want to add complexity to your story. Most authors do. Complexity just sounds so… sophisticated. It sounds like one of those novels or films that are taken apart and analyzed by really smart critics and professors. It sounds like taking your story to the next level. And in some ways, it is. Complex […]

8 Ways to Avoid Cardboard Characters (and Plot Contrivances While You’re At It)

“The plot was contrived, and the characters were cardboard.” Ouch. That’s about as bad as it can get when it comes to negative story reviews. It’s also perhaps one of the most common complaints audiences have about stories. Certainly, it’s one that irritates me the most! Here’s the thing though: cardboard characters often cause plot contrivances—and […]

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 […]