9 Negative Character Arcs in the Enneagram

The Enneagram personality theory is a wonderful tool for writers. Beneath the surface of the system’s nine types, you can find development guides that include all the working parts of solid transformational character arcs. Last week, we discussed the positive character arcs in the Enneagram. Today, we’re going to look at the flipside: nine negative […]

9 Positive Character Arcs in the Enneagram

Character arcs aren’t just the stuff of good fiction. They’re also the essence of all personal growth and transformation. Little wonder, then, that some of the best shortcuts writers can find for identifying the most powerful character-arc options are those found in personal development tools such as the Enneagram. These days, most of us are […]

Archetypes and Story Structure: How They’re Connected

By its very nature, story structure is archetypal. It is a pattern we recognize emerging from story. It is a pattern as big as life itself, and therefore one about which we are always learning more, but it is also a pattern we have been able to distill into specific systems that help us consistently […]

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 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 […]

3 Things to Know About the Ending of a Story

There are three parts of a story that are difficult to write: the beginning, the middle, and the ending. (I was going to start the article by referencing the ending of a story as one of the hardest parts, but then I realized… it’s all hard. Ahem.) Each has its own special set of challenges, […]

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 […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 22: How to Use Archetypal Character Arcs in Your Stories

And so we find ourselves (almost) at the end of a nearly six-month journey through the possibilities of archetypal character arcs. If you’ve stuck with me through what is by far the longest series I have ever shared, then I hope, like me, you are enthralled and excited by the possibilities that archetypes offer for […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 21: The Flat Archetype of the Mentor

And so we come to the final archetype within the life-arc cycle: the well-known and well-loved Mentor. This final Flat archetype, which precedes the final transformation of the Mage Arc, is one of the most significant within human storytelling. Indeed, next to the Hero, the Mentor is perhaps our most well-known of all mythic archetypes. […]