College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
creative writing, fiction, flat character arcs, positive change arcs, hero’s journey
Varner, Rachael Michelle, "Lady of the Joust: Defining and Classifying Flat Character Arcs" (2023). Masters Theses. 973.
Character arcs outline the growth or development a character experiences throughout a narrative. Of the three major types—Positive Change, Negative Change, and Flat—the third is often glossed over or ignored in academic settings. The Artist Statement addresses my experience writing a novel when I did not understand what Flat Arcs entailed and thus failed to recognize why my protagonist resisted the more popular Positive Change formula. In the Critical Paper, my analysis of texts dedicated to the craft of character arcs revealed that there are no consistent criteria by which to define or categorize them. Nevertheless, my research suggests that the three major arcs are best defined by whom the arc changes and the new worldview embraced. Additionally, I propose that these Primary Arcs are part of a multilayered classification system that explains where the remaining criteria reside. Finally, the Creative Manuscript includes chapters of my novel-in-progress, Lady of the Joust, and a screenplay adaptation of Act I.