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1.0 - The Character Arc & Premise

Feb. 9th, 2009 | 12:42 am
posted by: psychofish in plotchomp

Before you even start thinking up the details about persons, places and things...

Start with the Character Arc !!!

What the hell is it? Well the Character Arc is composed of three things:
1) The plan: The hero/heroes trying to achieve a goal.
2) The journey: 
The hero/heroes method to getting towards that goal.
3) The lesson:
the hero or supporting characters, changed by the events of the story, learns something in the end. (The Moral of the Story)

In layman's terms, the character arc is the premise, the heart of what your story is. It is the trajectory or journey your protagonist (Aka. Hero, Aka. Main Character) takes in the story. The journey doesn't have to be physical, but to some degree, there must be some change or transition your character undergoes. Every story, no matter what it is, has a character trying to obtain a goal in the end where in the ultimate trial, he or she will  succeed or fail.

The Wizard of OZ (1939): 
- The Plan: Dorothy trying to get home
- The Journey: Dorothy travels through OZ to get to the wizard who'll bring her home
- The Lesson: Although Dorothy had so much fun in OZ, she realizes "There's no place like home"

The Departed (2006):
- The Plan: Colin spies for Irish Mob Boss Frank Costello inside the State Police
- The Journey: Colin tries to uncover a police mole in Frank Costello's gang without being found out.
- The Lesson: Crime doesn't pay.
The protagonist doesn't always have to be the very person who holds the burden of the lesson. Sometimes there are multiple character arcs where the lesson falls on the supporting characters, where the main character's journey teaches them something.  Here are some examples:

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) 
- The Plan: Jamal tries to reunite with Latika.
- The Journey: Jamal appears on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" hoping Latika will see him.
- The Lesson: Jamal's brother, who's holding Latika captive, realizes love is powerful than money and lets her go.
Forrest Gump (2008) 
- The Plan: Jenny trying to make her dreams come true, Lt. Dan trying to die with honor in the war he fought.
- The Journey: Jenny hangs with the crowd and finds dissatisfaction , Lt. Dan tries to survive as a cripple.
- The Lesson: Both Jenny and Lt. Dan realizes that "Life is a box of chocolates; You never know what you're going to get" and comes to terms with the life they have even though they didn't reach their ambitions.   

Star Wars (1979)
- The Plan: Luke Skywalker wants to rescue Princess Leia; Han Solo just wants to make a buck out of transporting our heroes.
- The Journey: Luke and Han, travelling through space, tries to escape from the Imperial Fleet
- The Lesson: Han realizes it's more rewarding to save your friends than running away with your pay check.

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List 1# - Battling Writer's Block

Feb. 8th, 2009 | 12:40 am
posted by: psychofish in plotchomp

"Don't get it right, just get it written." - James Thurber



1. Grab a Friend/Family Member/target audience/victim and tell them about your story and your problems. Even if they're confused. 
2. Create a Playlist for your story and listen to it.
3. Take a walk outside/ exercise / Clean your room or workspace
4. Scream.
5. Go to Disneyland. And Scream too.
6. Research your story, even if you don't need it. Where your protagonist lives, his/her hobbies, her interests, health disorders, etc.  Read books, magazines. Watch documentaries.
7. Write stuff on paper.
8. Role Play your character. Make sure the person you RP with pushes your character to a new limit. (Aka. RP)
9. "What Would Jesus Do?" -- watch films, movies, television shows (make sure they're stories that do not closely resemble yours) and ask what your characters would do in that situation. Go out with your daily life and ask how your character would handle the very same errands.
10. Break stuff. If you're that stressed, buy cheap plates, glasses, etc. and smash them. Safely.
11. Take writing workshops and classes.
12. Review your scenes you have so far. Tracing back helps realize the direction you're going so far. Afterwards, assume what would happen if your character was actually the opposite sex.
13. Write "FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!" a hundred times until you're tired of it.


1. Play videogames (Exception: Writing an Action/thriller Story)
2. Stare at a wall
3. Think too hard about your story
4. Do drugs. (Okay, it works for musicians and writers that don't aim for plot...but seriously!)
5. Commit a crime.
6. Watch films with a similar plot or genre to your story. This will end up tempting you to copy the exact plot.


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Intro - What Makes a Great Story

Feb. 8th, 2009 | 08:46 pm
posted by: psychofish in plotchomp

"I...Am a Writer" - Wonder Boys

What makes a great story?

You've come across them before. You've read books. Watched shows on TV. Read Comics. Seen films in theatres. And emerge out of these worlds in awe. One form or another, these stories have inspired us to write stories in return. Hopefully, to inspire the hearts of a new audience yearning for the next best thing.

But what makes a great story?

Maybe it's a character whose demise and essence relate to the human condition. Maybe it's the atmosphere that whisks us readers, a sole traveler, into a living breathing world. Maybe its the soliloquies from a hero that yearn for our connection. Or the beauty of prose, its rhythm and texture, that dances from writer's lips and onto the clean pages of black on white.

Yes, these are the elements that make a story ALIVE! EMOTION! That's what we writers love to do. To twist the imaginations and the heartstrings of our readers. But really, that's just the icing on the cake.

We writers also have to face one inevitable large whale...with an inevitable large fugly name: STRUCTURE.

Yeap, you heard me.

Structure. One might think its that monolithic mallet that solidifies our lively narratives into a unifying boring lifeless thing. But structure is not supposed to be a restraint. A template, a mold, a staircase...call it what you think it is. Structure is a guide,  the very thing that helps the writers carefully maps the course of our story'. Eliminate the gunk that slows our situations down. Connects every heartbeat of the story into place. And firmly plants every hill, mountain, valley, canyon and cliffhanger in our protagonist's way.  Without it, our characters could run in circles, one mindless scene amounting to another. Without some map, the road from point A to point B becomes a winding confusing mess.

So what is a great story?

A great story is a JOURNEY.

The journey doesn't have to be a physical. Sometimes the main character's journey is emotional, or personal. But hold this rule of thumb dear to your heart: A story should never end the same way it began. By the end of a voyage, there is change. 

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