What does "arc" stand for?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Lehmkuhl, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. Mark Lehmkuhl

    Mark Lehmkuhl Stunt Coordinator

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    When referring to a character's "arc"?

    Thanks
     
  2. Robin Warren

    Robin Warren Second Unit

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    I am pretty sure that they are using it to refer to a characters growth.

    Han Solo's arc was that of a gangster only concerned with himself to a General in the Republic responsible for millions of lives.

    Or something like that. Arc = growth
     
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    It doesn't "stand for" anything. The term "arc" refers to a path traveled (originally the rise and set of a celestial body). When referring to a character, it signifies the path that they travel from the beginning of the story to the end.

    Currently, the more popular catchphrase is to talk about the character's "journey".

    M.
     
  4. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    The best way I could convey it would be a character without an "arc" would be a straight line, never changing. They get from point A in the story to point B in the story without changing their behavior or becoming more detailed in the process.

    A character with an "arc" would be closer to the arc of a parabola, in that the character is changing direction or characteristics from point A and point B. Perhaps they are finding their flaws, or turning evil, or discovering hidden strengths that cause them to deviate from the basic "straight line" character.
     
  5. RobertW

    RobertW Supporting Actor

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    i think it's just a simple way to describe a character's storyline. in a series, for example, a character's arc may occur over several episodes, that storyline resolves or concludes, and a new arc begins.

    take buffy the vampire slayer, for example. each season, there is usually a beginning storyline which is resolved(the little bad), paving the way for the major plotline, the big bad. each character has a different arc within these storylines, while the storyline itself is the series' arc.
     
  6. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    Related tidbit:
    Michael Imperioli's character, Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos struggled with character arcs both personally and in the screenplay he was writing at one point.

    "Every movie mobster has his own story arc. Where’s my arc?" he says. "I got no identity."
     
  7. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Characters don't always grow. Sometimes they go down the tubes or "descend into darkness". That's their arc.

    //Ken
     
  8. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    The phrase comes from geometry. If you go back mentally to 10th grade, you'll recall that an arc is the curved line that lies between two points on the circumference of a circle. That is, the character gets from point A to point B, but it's not in a straight line, which wouldn't be very interesting. Rather, the character alters his course somewhat by the time he has reached the end point. The fact that it's on a circle also implies that the change is gradual, not abrupt, so as to provide a continuous experience.
     
  9. David Rogers

    David Rogers Supporting Actor

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    Characters can be static or dynamic. A dynamic character will have an arc, while a static character usually is effectively a landmark in the story (stop and see the sights, shake hands, okay off we go for story again, but now we've had our picture taken with Joe the Veteran Police Detective who's been on the force thirty years, etc...). Dynamic characters will "grow" over the course of a story, in some way. Usually this means overcoming some sort of challenge (not necessarily a physical challenge), though it can also mean coming to some sort of understanding or realisation.

    A character's arc is a label applied to their journey in the story. One might begin as a self-interested jerk, and through the course of the story, grow into a warm and thoughtful friend. Bill Murray's character in Groundhog's Day follows this arc; he begins an ass and ends a helluvaguy. Another example would be Luke Skywalker, who arcs from a snotty little farmboy into a wise Jedi Knight in Star Wars. Still another character arc example would be Murtah and Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series, who begin respectively distrustful of one another and end as family. The arc was the progression of their self-conversions from one to the other, with all the little whys and howfors along the way.

    The best stories have deep and interesting arcs for their characters. In fact, the best stories are really those with deep and interesting characters who arc.
     

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