The Flat Character Arc

How to Write a Flat Character Arc sorta sounds familiar:

The flat-arc protagonist will be confronted with tremendous opposition. He will at times be shaken. His commitment to the Truth will be tested to the breaking point—but he will never waver from it. He will experience little inner conflict and will not change significantly as a person

I’m not sure where, but I feel like I’ve heard something like that before.

The major difference, of course, being that Dramatica invites the character to explore the other side before returning to how they were at the beginning. They don’t simply have “The Truth” and stick with it.

The Flat Character Arc. I’m so going to use that next time I get in a debate as to whether or not all main characters have an arc. “Yuh-huh! He’s got a FLAT arc!”


The thing that frustrates me is that I know she knows Dramatica, so why doesn’t she at least give credit to Main Character Resolve and Steadfast Characters? I’ve participated in other threads–this one where she invents a new Archetypal Character– where she at least gives credit.

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That was a frustrating read, because she clearly knows about Dramatica, but she also clearly doesn’t know Dramatica.

Is it uncool if I reply to a post and tell people to come to the specialists?

Yeah. I usually get worked up about these things and then leave a comment or two. And then the next day I feel bad about it because she’s got her thing going on, and people seem to enjoy it so what’s the harm. I just wish there would at least be some reference to the source material.

Good point though about she knows but doesn’t know. Thus the need to redefine what’s already there.

I get worked up about this stuff too.

I’m thinking… Dramatica airplane banner. I mean, flat character arc?.. Airplane banner. Now.
It is disconcerting how the term “arc” is thrown around everywhere with - often - so little understanding of the matter. Someone (a high-ranking someone by the way) once “explained” to me that Buzz Lightyear was actually the main character of Toy Story 1 because he was the one with the biggest arc. And that was only the headline of the newsflash, which I will spare you all…

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I really love her layout though. I was reading a lot of her articles the other day and I had run into this one. I wasn’t sure about it, and I think you’ve hit on why for me. She had three arcs there could be, but I like how Dramatica puts it better.

One thing that I have run into with the writers that I have been dealing with is the varied definitions of story-writing terms.

I have seen “Protagonist” defined as “Protagonists move the story forward”, "Protagonists are the ones that change the most”, “Protagonists are the ones that the audiences identify with the most”, “Protagonists chase the story goal” etc.

Try having a reasoned conversation with someone when you have differing definitions - it’s a nightmare!

Then Chris and Melanie try to pin the definitions down so that everyone is speaking the same language, and then they get accused of being “elitist”, confusing the theory with overly complex terms.

I don’t think you can win either way…

I thought the protagonist was the one on the poster?


Darn - missed one! lol

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I love Dramatica, but for some reason have found it very hard to understand and nail down this “Change Character v. Steadfast Character” thing. K.M. Weiland’s input and explanation put it into terms that were easier for me to grasp…kind of like putting flesh on the bones. Dramatica is an AWESOME tool, but I can easily get lost in the technicality of it, which can bring my writing/planning process to a screeching halt. So I think some down-to-earth words, lots more examples, and common language explanations are a big help. :slight_smile: Thanks so much for the great tool you are providing! It’s helping me learn from the ground up.

I think it’s great that KM Weiland is helping you understand Dramatica, but you have to also understand that there is a price that comes with her guidance.

When starting off with dramatica, any foothold can help. Anything to get up the steep learning curve is good. But after a certain point, you are going to have to take your foot off that foothold if you want to advance any further. Why? Because her explanations are inaccurate and laden with baggage that comes from other theories.