Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 14: The Mage’s Shadow Archetypes

Structurally speaking, it is always the end of a story—its Climactic Moment—that tells us what it is about. The Climactic Moment ends the external plot by telling us who “wins.” But it also, implicitly, ends the protagonist’s arc by showing us whether the character succeeded in arcing positively and helping others to do the same, […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 13: The Crone’s Shadow Archetypes

The final two archetypal character arcs within the life cycle signal a distinct departure from the realm of the known. After sacrificing herself for the Kingdom at the end of the King Arc, the seemingly diminished Crone, leaves behind the “real” world of Kingdom and throne and enters instead the spooky forests and liminal hinterlands […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 12: The King’s Shadow Archetypes

Throughout the progression of the six archetypal character arcs that make up the human life cycle, we see a steady progression of the character’s power. As we explored in the positive King Arc, this final mid-life arc represents the height of temporal power. The King is someone who wields a vast amount of influence not […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 11: The Queen’s Shadow Archetypes

A character who makes it through the Hero Arc is a character who has graduated into a brave new world—the Second Act of the life cycle of archetypal character arcs. This section of life, which deals with questions of relationship and power, begins with the first of the “mature” arcs—that of the Queen. But like […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 10: The Hero’s Shadow Archetypes

Here in the 21st Century, we often have a confused relationship with the Hero archetype. On the one hand, he is everywhere and we love him and resonate with him. On the other hand, his sheer omnipresence has inevitably highlighted his negative counter-archetypes in almost equal force. This is because wherever we find a would-be […]

5 Questions About How to Balance Multiple POVs in Your Story

The opportunities and pitfalls offered by multiple POVs are both the joy and the bane of the writer’s life. On the one hand, using multiple points of view to tell a story seems like it makes the job so much easier. No limits—woohoo! But on the other hand, once you start trying to juggle multiple […]

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How to Choose the Right Antagonist for Any Type of Story

Here’s how to choose the right antagonist for your story. You know “If I Didn’t Have You”—that song John Goodman and Billy Crystal belt out at the end of Monsters, Inc.? It’s this total bromance duet about the undying friendship of our two favorite monsters. But pretty much every lyric in there could also be […]

5 Questions for Choosing a Protagonist Who Represents Your Story’s Theme

Choosing a protagonist is often more of an event than a process. Writers sometimes feel more like the protagonist chooses them than the other way around. While most of us heed our first instinct to simply chase after this character to see where he goes, it’s important that at some point we analyze the soundness […]

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4 Ways to Choose a Better Theme for Your Book

Part 20 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Writers often have a complicated relationship with theme. We love it. It loves us back. But reaching a harmonious happily-ever-after with theme sometimes turns into as much of a soap opera as a long-running CW drama. Just writing a story that has a theme is […]

Why Doubt Is the Key to Flat Character Arcs

Flat Character Arcs create some of the most exciting and powerful stories. Most of the time, when people think of “character arc,” they’re likely to think of Positive Change Arcs, in which the protagonist himself undergoes an empowering personal change. Flat Arcs, by contrast, are about a protagonist who does not personally change, but who […]