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Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development
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Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development

(Helping Writers Become Authors #7)

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  2,289 ratings  ·  337 reviews
About the Book

Powerful Character Arcs Create Powerful Stories

Have you written a story with an exciting concept and interesting characters—but it just isn’t grabbing the attention of readers or agents? It’s time to look deeper into the story beats that create realistic and compelling character arcs. Internationally published, award-winning novelist K.M. Weiland shares

Kindle Edition, 282 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by PenForASword Publishing (first published 2016)
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Start your review of Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
This is a book I will keep close, there is a lot of information and instruction in this book and I will be using it from here on out. This has opened a door into a more complex and better-plotted story in the future. It has allowed me to see what was lacking in my own work and how to repair that deficit before it goes to print.

Highly recommend this book to any writing that wants to improve. And isn't there always room for improvement?
Kellyn Roth
Every time I read a book by K.M. Weiland, I have these awesome "OH WOW THAT'S HOW IT WORKS!" moments that just change my writing forever.

Review coming!
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book completely revolutionized how I look at plotting a novel! Every writer should read it. Now instead of seeing ‘plot’ as a series of random events I somehow have to tie together (perhaps through that ever-illusive concept of ‘theme?’), I now see it as a logical and specific chain of trials designed to test and strengthen my protagonist. No need to stare at a blank screen wondering what should happen next. Thanks to Weiland’s insights, I know!

Most helpful was the section on Positive Chang
G.H. Eckel
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is helpful for authors. It follows protagonists through all the permutations of their ups and downs. The book's message kind of operates in the background as you're writing. ...more
Marie Tankersley
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn’t like this book in the beginning. The positive change arc section was quite long and it was the one that I knew best and that I would expect others to know best as well. It was very detailed, and didn’t need to be, though if you are unfamiliar with the basics of character development it may be useful.

The next two sections of the book were excellent. The flat change arc was very well described and it wasn’t too drawn out. The negative change arc section was also very educational and beca
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
This book attempts to teach readers how to create interesting story arcs for their characters. Based on the examples, it seems that this book was written primarily for screenwriters. Unfortunately, it's a bit too formulaic for my taste. There are large sections of the book which consist of questions to ask about your characters. Also, there are long lists of examples from movies that illustrate the points being made. However, some of the examples given will leave you scratching your head. For ex ...more
Amanda Tero
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
After hearing about K.M. Weiland's books and reading portions of her blog for a while, I've finally read one of her books on writing!

First off, I appreciate how CLEAN this book is as far as content. Many writers dive into vulgar or morally corrupt examples. While Weiland used some examples from movies or books I'd personally not watch/read, she was tactful in the information that she shared (like, "FINALLY, a writing book I can hand to my younger sisters!")

Now, for content. I haven't read many b
Lili P
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was so extremely helpful! When I first began reading it a year or so ago, it discouraged me because I felt like there was a lot I needed to fix, and it would be impossible. Then I picked it up again, and everything worked so well! I read it and took notes and answered the questions for my book, tweaking things here and there, but really this book just made everything stronger. It was also cool to see how much I’ve already done right without even knowing it. It made me so happy I couldn’t he ...more
Salman Israr
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Concise. Interesting. Helpful if you're into learning the craft (theory) of storytelling in any form.

This was in a recommendation list of Like Stories of Old, and Lessons from Screenplay, so had to read it!

Searska GreyRaven
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Books on writing tend to be very hit or miss, but this is one of the few really good ones I've come across. Solid advice on how to build a character arc, different kinds of arcs, and even a few short chapters on adding arcs to a longer series. My one gripe would be the over-arching assumption that the main character is always male. Several examples were non-male, but whenever the author spoke of a main character, it was always male. Got on my nerves after a while. FFS, mix it up a bit. ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2021
After reading this, I’m questioning everything I ever knew about character arcs. 😂 But seriously this book is so in-depth and perfect for plotters like me. Will definitely be implementing everything I learned in my next book.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I had a lot of enthusiasm for this book when I bought it. Perhaps I am not a good enough writer to appreciate the extensive information regarding the authors extreme interest in discussing character arcs and how they relate and are developed in the three acts of a novel. I contemplated donating this book but on second thought perhaps I will appreciate it more as I improve as an author. Maybe then I will be able to assimilate the pearls of wisdom the author has embedded in this book.
Mrs. Y
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you have been following on Twitter, no doubt you followed my NaNoWriMo whim. In November I settled on writing the novel that I had in my head and wanted to do so as quickly as possible. This post is not about what I wrote, as much as it is why I read this book. Though I did not get to this book before NaNo, I have read it before taking my rough draft to my first draft. Want to know more? Want a more structured story? Well, follow along with my friend, and set your expectations at the door and ...more
Eldon Farrell
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everything you need to know about this book really is right there in the title. K.M. Weiland takes you step by step through the process of constructing the three main character arcs (positive change, flat, and negative change) as well as slight variations on each.

Each chapter follows pretty much the same structure and layout which makes returning later to check your own work rather easy. I feel every writer should read this at some point as it's not just for beginning writers. We could all benef
Rosey Waters
This book slapped me in the face. As it turns out, I haven't been writing a change arc story, I've been writing a flat arc story. This is both good and bad -- major re-writes loom over my future, but I think they will be positive. ...more
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An indispensable resource for writers or story lovers who want to better understand story structure. Uses lots of old and contemporary examples from films and novels to illustrate its claims. Arcs covered include the positive change arc, the flat arc, and the negative change (corruption or fall) arc.

I got a lot of useful information from this book and will try incorporating the interplay between lies and truths that characters believe in my own attempts at fiction. Great narration in the audio
Faith Rivens
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2017
KM Weiland does it again.

Full review to come but a highly valuable resource for writers looking to strengthen character arcs!
J.Paul (inactive because of drafting)
really informative. it gave me more insights on how to create three-dimentional, flawed, and nuanced characters that feel like real people.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every author knows the delight of sinking your teeth into a powerful writing craft book. It gives you a further glimpse into your craft, opportunity to mull over how you do things, compare it to how others do things, and find YOUR happy process along the way.

But lest this book seems strictly writer-related, it's far from it! If you love to read, and want to learn more about the science behind how characters are created, then pick up K.M. Weiland's newest release (today!) Creating Character Arcs.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-on-writing
Disclaimer: I have received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I’ve followed Weiland's blog and read her books for several years now, so I had high expectations for this book.

Weiland not only matched my expectations, but even surpassed them.

There were certain things I was expecting Weiland to do a great job at: carefully explaining how to develop a thematic arc as a war between a lie and a truth; comprehensively showing how the truth can overcome the lie in the course of a
Title: Creating Character Arcs
Written By: K.M. Weiland
Genre: Writing Helps/Non-fiction
Recommended Ages: Any

I had never really thought much about character arcs until recently. So I picked up this book and read it. It was amazing!

Clarity: 1/1
Everything in the book is well thought out and easy to understand. K.M. Weiland uses examples from well-known stories. Some I knew and some I didn't, but even with the stories I didn't know, I figured out enough to have them help me make more sen
Sherrie Marshall Spitz
After I read Structure Your Novel by Weiland, I snatched up every instructional writing book this author has published. Creating Character Arcs is one more gem in my resource library of books on craft. This book makes little things like characteristic scene moments and characters who act on false assumptions understandable and easy to balance. Using the clear thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter deepen the entire writing process. Not only am I impressed enough to own a digital ...more
Malcolm Logan
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
A helpful corollary to the organic method of composition, this step-by-step examination of the psychological transformation of fictional characters encourages the writer to identify each place in the story where the character grows or regresses in order to build dramatic tension and sustain reader interest. I found it most useful in combination with an already existing plot line. It allowed me to go back and re-jigger plot points to make them fall within a "best practices" continuum.

Charly Troff (ReaderTurnedWriter)
3.5 rounded up.

This was a very informative, well formatted book. I found the negative character arc section the most useful, as it was the one I knew the least about.

I found some of the explanation a little vague and hard to follow at times. I usually got it in the end, with the examples at the end, but I wish it had been clear from the beginning.

If you are just starting off, this is a good resource. I found it a little repetitive of information I've learned in other places, sick as Save The
Sidharth Kriplani
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clare S-B
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With only a few days to go until Camp Nano I still had some stuff about characters to work out. So I picked up this book and spent the day reading through it, I managed to come up with lots more ideas for my story I am plotting/outlining. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to writer a better story and understand character arcs better. It has helped me, and I think reading that book in front of the fire was a day well spent.
Krista | The Bookish HedgeMom
First, I would like to preface this review by saying that I have absolutely zero background in creative writing outside of high school. I am 100% self-taught. Which is why I love to read books like this! Creating Character Arcs is a very helpful resource to writers who aren’t familiar with the basic types of character arcs. If you’re like me, you’ve actually been using one of these formats for as long as you’ve been writing without knowing it.

Though it’s a very informative book to read through,
A.L. Buehrer
I will be referencing this book heavily as I revise and edit my upcoming novel. This was, like the other Weiland craft book I read, a very clarifying book. I love how she tied the character arc so organically with the plot structure. I always appreciate when things can be unified in a streamlined way. The rhythm of the character arc follows the rhythm of the story structure—so really, they’re just two facets of the novel’s movement. When you see this, like Weiland helps you do, in this book, it ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just like the way K. M. Weiland explains things.
I was familiar with the Positive Change Arc and knew a couple of things about the Negative Arc, but the information on Flat Arcs was very interesting, as it turns out that my favourite characters usually fall under this category and I didn't even know it.
I am a person who loves organizations and to-do lists, but some of the things mentioned here were a bit rigid even for me. However, the basics of character arcs was very well laid out and the au
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I have not actually started to construct my character arcs but I will be suing this book as I go along. I have my peeves with it, such as there is a lot of waste of paper (blank pages, pages with just a quote, big sized font) and the fact that some of the movies used to exemplify were not the best chosen ( esp in the positive act development) but it gives you a brief and easy to go through run down of what you need to do and uses many quotes from authors who probably have done a better job at ...more
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K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso.

She is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic.

Her fiction include

Other books in the series

Helping Writers Become Authors (8 books)
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Outlining Your Novel Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises for Planning Your Best Book
  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story
  • Structuring Your Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Building Strong and Successful Stories
  • Conquering Writer's Block and Summoning Inspiration: Learn to Nurture a Lifestyle of Creativity
  • 5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel That Stands Out
  • Creating Character Arcs Workbook: The Writer's Reference to Exceptional Character Development and Creative Writing

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