Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Arc

Not the Advanced Reading Copy kind of ARC, but story and character arcs!

The story arc is the plot of your story. There are many different types of plots (The 8 Point Arc, The 3 Act StructureThe Snowflake Method) but basically, they all boil down to a combination of the diagram below and the seven basic plot types.

Taken from
Here are some worksheets which can help you get started, or can help you discover possible plot holes. I know I've been guilty of writing a string of events rather than an actual story and filling out these worksheets (even after the MS is done) can really show you where you went wrong and how the MS can be salvaged.

1) Story Arc Worksheet
2) Plot Tree Worksheet
3) Novel Diagram Worksheet

Character Arc is just another name for the character's growth process between the beginning and end of the story. Writers throw all kinds of tough decisions at characters to show how they respond/decide at the beginning of the story versus at the end. Even if the character has "grown" into a worse person than they were at the start, they should have learned something from past decisions which makes them choose they way they do at the end.

I've compiled various character arc and character worksheets which I thought you might find useful:

1) Generalized Character Arc
2) Detailed Character Worksheet
3) Basic Character Worksheet
4) Hero's Journey
5) Character Arc and Character Worksheet all-in-one
6) Character Chart

Do you use Character and Story Arc worksheets for your novels? If not, how do you keep track of everything - I'd love to hear about new methods :)

Today is day 1 of the blogging from A-Z blogfest! And since this is a blogfest, don't forget to check out some of the other participating blogs to see what they've come up with.


  1. Very interesting post about story and character acrs. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm going to save those worksheets and run through them for my WiP to make sure I don't have any obvious holes.

  2. Awesome! What a wealth of info for us writers! I'm in the process right now of plotting and character building so these come in handy. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Glad to be able to share something useful :)

  4. Great A thank you.

    Whilst I'm aware of the different methods I'm so new to writing that I'm amazed I write anything.

    I draw what looks like a double helix, put the starting point at the top and the resolution at the bottom with notes along it and at the pinch points. Something I learnt from a writers workshop a few years ago.

    My A is for '

    1. Ooh, that's a method I hadn't heard of yet. I like the visual and it sounds like a good way to keep two different perspectives together when writing from multiple POVs (one line for each POV?)

  5. I don't use any specific worksheets, just lots and lots of notes. But since I have a certain character whose arc is giving me a hard time, maybe I should give a worksheet a try. Thanks for sharing!

    M.J. Fifield
    My Pet Blog

  6. Well Versed Post... thank you!

    Great start... to the challenge "A" is for Awesome!
    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    IZOMBIE: Visit the Madness

  7. Oh, I love me a good worksheet, though I personally don't use them that often. I'm a mental planner - letting my ideas fight and mold themselves for months before a start an physical writing/planning. Then I normally jot down world-building notes in bullet points, or on index cards I stick my wall.

    If I'm in the middle of writing a chapter and think of a great character fact or conflict, I jot it underneath the rest of the writing, and then copy and save it in a master document. I'm trying to learn how to use Scrivener, since it seems to combine all my planning quirks into one handy software, but it's also a little overwhelming, haha!

    Thanks for such great resources!

    1. Index cards are a good idea :) I keep meaning to try them...but then I don't, haha. But, I do use the index cards in Scrivener to keep track of my chapters.

  8. This is fascinating, and my head just exploded. I am impressed at what I am learning from my fellow A-to-Z bloggers. I will be sure to share your blog with my friends are writing novels.

  9. I'm so bad at things like this. I pants all my books, so I don't really know what the story is until I've written it. But during editing, I do try to give the book a nice pace with the initial conflict, a failed attempt to fix conflict, a rest, more little conflicts, build up to climax and end. But I do all this in my head. I'm not organized enough to map it out :) Great post.

  10. Hi AK. This post was really interesting. I've never outlined my story Arc before. I particularly liked the graphic at the top. I think I might be a visual person. I'm going to tweet this. I think this is something all writers should consider.

    Good luck with the A to Z blogging. I thought about it--hard--but realized I probably couldn't keep it up.

    1. Thank you :) I don't do a whole lot of outlining, but having a graphic visual of the major plot points (even if they change along the way) really helps me to keep my story on track.

  11. What great worksheets! I'm bookmarking this baby! Thanks! Great to meet you through A-Z!

    1. Thank you for the follow :) And I'm glad to meet you too - yay A-Z!