Write great protagonists!
I'll be at LDSPMA
Tips organized by topic
Read about me
Editing Services
Read Testimonials
Learn the "bones" of story

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Steadfast, Flat-arc Protagonist in Story: The End

Hello everyone! Today we are finishing our breakdown of story structure, according to the positive steadfast, flat-arc protagonist--protagonists who don't change drastically in their worldviews (and instead usually inspire change in others). 

Here are the previous posts in the series:

Debunking 6 Myths about Steadfast, Flat-arc Characters

Principles of the Steadfast, Flat-arc Protagonist

3 Categories of Steadfast, Flat-arc Characters

The Steadfast, Flat-arc Protagonist in Story: The Beginning

The Steadfast, Flat-arc Protagonist in Story: The Middle 

Just as a recap, there are three categories of positive steadfast protagonists.

1. One that experiences little to no doubt, such as James Barrie in Finding Neverland. (Because they experience no doubt, there isn't much of an internal journey plotline, so another type of plotline will be emphasized in its place--likely the world/society or the Influence Character plotline.)

2. One that doubts applying the truth (his or her accurate worldview) in one of these ways:

- Doesn't know how to actually do what he needs to do (i.e. We all believe no one should go hungry, but how do we actually solve world hunger?), such as Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke.

- Doubts his capabilities. Does he have what it takes to claim victory? Can he survive the costs? This is where Peter Parker is at in the beginning of Spider-man 2.

- Doubts her role or worthiness. Should she be the person taking this journey? This is what happens in Moana

3. One that entertains doubt concerning the truth, the accurate worldview. Could the opposing worldview (the lie, the misbelief, the anti-theme) be the right one? Diana does this in Wonder Woman.

And just to have everything together on the same page for reference, here are the stories we have been dissecting as examples:

Finding Neverland

Protagonist: James Barrie

Primary Theme (Accurate Worldview): Playfulness empowers us and helps us cope by getting us to believe in something bigger.

Primary Anti-theme (Inaccurate Worldview): We should go through life seriously. Playfulness is inappropriate.

Primary Arc: James Barrie is a positive steadfast protagonist who doesn't doubt the primary theme at all.

Secondary Theme (Accurate Worldview): Sincere friendship is more important than reputation.

Secondary Anti-theme (Inaccurate Worldview): Reputation is more important than friendship.

Secondary Arc: James Barrie is a positive steadfast protagonist who entertains some doubt through the middle concerning friendship being more important than reputation.

Princess Mononoke

Protagonist: Ashitaka

Primary Theme (Accurate Worldview): We should strive to live in peace with others, by not giving into hate.

Primary Anti-theme (Inaccurate Worldview): We should use hate as fuel to defeat our enemies and get what we want.

Primary Arc: Ashitaka is a positive steadfast protagonist who is unsure how to apply the theme to the wider world.

Secondary Theme (Accurate Worldview): We should face death calmly and humbly. It's okay to seek healing and life, but we should not rage or try to cheat the inevitable. 

Secondary Anti-theme (Inaccurate Worldview): We should seek the death of our enemies, and when confronted with our own, rage onward arrogantly and destructively.

Secondary Arc: Ashitaka is a positive steadfast protagonist who never seems to doubt the secondary theme.

Wonder Woman

Protagonist: Diana

Primary Theme (Accurate Worldview): We should fight for the world we believe (which comes from choosing love/mercy)

Primary Anti-theme (Inaccurate Worldview): We should allow humans to suffer the world they deserve (which comes from choosing punishment/justice)

Primary Arc: Diana is a positive steadfast protagonist in the primary theme who doubts her accurate worldview.

Secondary Theme (Accurate Worldview): People have both good and bad in them. They are gray.

Secondary Anti-theme (Inaccurate Worldview): People are black or white (innately good or innately evil)

Secondary Arc: Diana is a positive change character in the secondary theme. She moves from having a black and white view, to seeing the gray (the truth). 

Remember that essentially these terms mean the same thing: 

Anti-theme = Inaccurate Worldview = Lie = Misbelief = Flaw (to some degree)


Theme = Accurate Worldview = Truth (I have also sometimes heard this called the "Central Idea")

And as a reminder, I'm using a hybrid beat sheet, as pretty much most story structures (The Hero's Journey (Vogler's version), Save the Cat!, or 7 Point Story Structure) say largely the same thing, just from different angles. 

Let's finish this up with the end!

The End

The end of the positive steadfast protagonist story is usually very similar to the end of a positive change protagonist story. This is because typically by this point, the change protagonist will have embraced the theme or accurate worldview (the truth) and is embodying it as they confront the antagonistic force--which is the same thing the steadfast protagonist is doing. 

Because the steadfast protagonist doesn't drastically change his or her worldview, a supporting character (at least the Influence Character) will usually embrace the truth instead, completing a positive change arc. K. M. Weiland writes, "select supporting characters will have reached a point in their change arcs where the protagonist's Truth will have convinced them to reject the Lie. . . . Even should he[the protagonist] die now, his cause will continue thanks to the converts he’s made along the way."

If the steadfast protagonist lost sight of the truth at the midpoint and began acting on the lie, then winning over a supporting character may be less vital (such as in The Lion King and Spider-man 2)--it may simply be less of a focus. For example, one may argue that Timon and Pumba work as the change-arc characters, as they stop "turning their backs on the world" and return to being part of society, but that change doesn't get much emphasis.

An example of a variation on this is in Glass, which is structured to make Dr. Staple a change-arc character; however, in a twist it is revealed she was only pretending to believe the lie. Because she is put in the role of the change-arc Influence Character, the twist is more unexpected (if only on a subconscious level). 

In any case, like the other protagonist types, the positive steadfast protagonist still has a fight on her hands--against the antagonistic force--at the end. Because it's only in the face of adversity can her worldview be proven true.

Break into Three

At the end of the middle, there was a significant event, The Ordeal. This usually leads to a lull. The lull may be brief, or it may last several scenes or chapters. It is sometimes called "The Dark Night of the Soul."

The lull ends with what is usually a big turning point, a "Reward." The protagonist gains something that empowers them, and that allows them to move forward toward the climax.

This may be purely plot driven. The protagonist may literally gain something--a special sword to slay the dragon, a friend who will help, or a vehicle to get to the villain's lair--that allows them to move forward to face the antagonist.

Or it may be more thematic. The protagonist gains new, deeper insight concerning the true thematic statement, and recommits to it. There is a sense that this insight will help them defeat the antagonist and set things right--it at least gives them the strength to go on.

Or it can be both. Something more concrete and plot-driven and something more abstract and thematic. And the concrete thing may be symbolic of the abstract thing. 

For the change-arc protagonist, this is usually a beat where they fully sacrifice their misbelief--their old self--and fully act on the true thematic statement--their new self. The climax will put that transformation to the test. 

For the flat-arc protagonist, this will probably be a bit different:

If the protagonist doesn't doubt much at all, then it's likely the Influence Character (the change-arc character), allies, or the society/world will get the emphasis. They will be rewarded, either gaining something physical that signifies the true thematic statement, or (more likely) finally embracing the true thematic statement and acting on it themselves--thanks to the steadfast protagonist showing them the way. The fact they embrace the truth may be the protagonist's "reward"--it may be what snaps him out of the lull. Alternatively, the protagonist may simply receive a plot-driven reward. 

If the protagonist struggled with doubt applying the true thematic statement, the reward will likely be that particular doubt dispelling. For example, in Moana, Moana's lull is deciding the ocean chose wrong--she's not the right person for this quest. Her reward is realizing (through the power of the true thematic statement via her grandmother) that she is the right person: "I am Moana!"

If the steadfast protagonist experienced doubt over the true thematic statement, and may have even gotten lost and acted on the anti-thematic statement, the lie, then this is where he regains the true thematic statement. For example, in The Lion King, Simba re-embraces the truth of the Circle of Life--that he is the one, true king. This empowers him to return to Pride Rock and challenge Scar for the throne.

Here, the protagonist usually enters a "martyr" state, where they are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to claim victory. For the steadfast protagonist, she may have somewhat already been in this state (in which case, this emphasis is probably on another character), but it's important to note that she, too, can make the shift.

It might be that a misbelief in the secondary theme was holding him back (Simba must be willing to sacrifice his irresponsibility to uphold the truth), or that she must willingly let go of all doubt she was entertaining (Moana), or maybe he has a conflicting want he must leave behind (Spider-man 2), or perhaps some remaining passivity that must be finally tossed aside. Whatever the case, the idea is that the protagonist is now willing to give up anything necessary to succeed--it basically shows that the protagonist is willing to pay a steep cost to uphold the thematic statement.

At this point, the Influence Character or allies will likely be supporting, encouraging, or rallying around the steadfast protagonist. They have seen what he has done, how he has lived, the costs he has paid, and they have been irrevocably impacted by that. They, too, will live and fight (and maybe die) for the truth, as he leads the way.

Of course, some of these elements may overlap--and if we aren't careful, we'll start talking in circles. 

And sometimes, these moments may come more toward the climax. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the emphasis is put on Willy Wonka (the Influence Character) understanding the importance of family, which comes later, when Charlie turns down his offer in order to be with his family (which confuses Wonka). 

Worth noting is that sometimes the "reward" is also referred to as the "last piece to the puzzle"--because it's usually the last thing (concrete or abstract) the protagonist needs to challenge the antagonist.

Earlier in this steadfast series, I talked about how a steadfast protagonist isn't necessarily a static protagonist. She may start out inexperienced and naive, and need to gain more experience and wisdom. He may start out passive, and need to gain more assertiveness. She may start off incompetent at something, and need to become competent at it. Or he may simply need to gain a deeper, broader, more accurate understanding of the true thematic statement--he may need to become more of something. This is usually a good moment to show or validate that he or she has obtained that. 

In Finding Neverland

After Peter refuses to go to the play, saying it's not important, Sylvia reveals she mended the script he'd torn up at the midpoint. She says she read it and has never been more proud of him. 

Earlier, James had an idea to give some of the seats of the play to orphans, thinking that having children scattered through the audience will help the adults remember what a play is really about--playfulness. It seems like the orphans are not going to make it in time, but at just the last minute, they arrive. Right after, Peter is shown arriving as well.

With Sylvia absent, James determines he must visit her--friendship is more important. 

Both of these instances work as "rewards" for the key characters. 

As the play begins, the children love it, which helps the audience lighten up, so they enjoy it as well. 

In Princess Mononoke

Ashitaka arrives at the fallout of the battlefield. As he strives to save a wolf, the surrounding men try to kill him for helping it. But he finds support when the men of Iron Town rally around him and help free the animal.

We get a nice moment between the wolf and Ashitaka's elk that seems thematic--earlier in the story, the wolf wanted to eat the elk, but now they seem to get along peacefully. 

The wolf offers to give Ashitaka a ride to find San, and they take off, racing into the forest. 

Eboshi and Jiko still can't seem to understand whose side Ashitaka is on. Ashitaka reaffirms his commitment to the thematic statement: "What I want is for the humans and forest spirit to live in peace!"

In Wonder Woman

After The Ordeal, it is revealed that Sir Patrick Morgan is Ares and that Diana's sword isn't the godkiller, she is. These may be seen as sort of plot-driven rewards, simply for surviving The Ordeal. But after Ares explains himself and his plans, Diana realizes she can't be a part of that (thematic). These turns and her resolve take us into the final fight. The allies are all shown battling for the thematic truth. 

As a side note, because the story was structured to have Ludendorf in the antagonist role, the reveal that Patrick is Ares, creates a nice twist. 


After claiming the reward, the protagonist may have a moment where he gathers himself. This might be making final preparations for the end. It might be as simple as taking a shower and getting dressed in the appropriate gear, solidifying the final plan with the allies, or making sure his equipment is working. It might even be an internal moment where he steels himself. Or it could just be him traveling to the location for the final battle. (In The Hero's Journey, this is called, "The Road Back.")

At this point, the flat-arc protagonist is ready to pay the required cost to uphold the truth. While she embodies the true thematic statement, the antagonistic force often taps into the anti-thematic statement in some way. After all, we are pitting together opponents, and if the theme must come out of story, then it must be proven true by defeating the opposing force (assuming you are writing a positive arc story; if you are writing a negative arc story, the protagonist will be thematically defeated instead). If this isn't the case in a story, and it's a variation, usually the same story pieces are still there, just tweaked or arranged differently. It might be that simply the methods that can be used to defeat the antagonistic, are thematic. 

The climax, the final battle, is where the protagonist and antagonist go head to head. This is also usually where the theme (the truth) and the anti-theme (the lie) go head to head. Think of this as the final test, to prove which worldview is accurate. We were hit with blacks and whites in the beginning, muddled through shades of grays in the middle, and have reached a higher understanding of the truth, the thematic statement. Now we need to validate its truth by claiming some kind of victory. Even if the protagonist does die, it will ultimately be shown that the sacrifice was made to uphold the truth (within or without). 

Sometimes during the climax, the anti-thematic statement (the lie) will take a turn for the worse and become even more terrible and ugly and grotesque than we could have imagined. For example, in Moana, it's revealed that Te Ka is Te Fiti--without her identity (her "heart") she has become something worse than what anyone could have predicted. In The Quiet Place, Part II, Regan and Emmett accidentally bring an alien to the island--maybe they aren't the ones worth saving, because they brought death to a whole island of people.

Likewise, the true thematic statement may take an upward turn and become something even greater, something even richer and more profound than we expected. In Arrival, Louise's understanding of communication takes an upturn when she learns that the heptopod's language literally alters our perspective of time--communication doesn't just help us avoid conflict, it helps us access a higher perspective. This enables her to "save the world."

Typically, we will now be seeing the antagonist at its full strength (a variation is that it will be at full strength during The Ordeal instead). 

To be most effective and most successful, whatever is in the climax, needs to have been at least foreshadowed prior to this moment. Usually by the start of the climax, all of the story pieces have made it onto the page. 

Promises made (almost always) need to be kept. So if you promised a battle with a dragon, it better be there in the climax. If promises aren't kept, whatever happens needs to be just as significant or more significant than what was promised. For example, maybe the monster is actually something worse, more terrifying, more formidable than the promised dragon.

In great climaxes, the story exceeds the expectations.

Stakes and costs will likely escalate yet again. 

Additionally, the climax is a great place to cross the broadest conflicts with the most personal conflicts for maximum impact. This means crossing the inner journey with the outer journey. Cross the character arc with the plot to prove the theme. 

Sometimes in the climax, there are callbacks to earlier points in the story--whether that's lines of dialogue or a specific plot point. And even though the protagonist has thrown off the anti-themes, their doubts, and their minor flaws, there might be a beat where those things raise their ugly heads again to tempt the character. This is to test the protagonist's resolve, their adherence to the truth, and their willingness to sacrifice whatever is necessary. The protagonist will not give in. 

Often any skills gained on the journey will be used to resolve the conflict. Moana must sail successfully. In Arrival, Louise must use what she's learned about the aliens' language to communicate effectively to win peace from China. 

Important side characters may get their moments in the spotlight as well. Allies who are supportive of the protagonist's truth may be shown utilizing what he taught them and paying their own costs. Characters who still believe the anti-theme, may suffer punishment and defeat. (But of course, there may be variations to this.)

During the climax, the protagonist should almost always be the most active hero, meaning, she is the one who defeats the antagonistic force. While there are exceptions to this, this is generally what happens and is the most satisfying option.

Keep in mind that in the climax, the thematic statement should always be shown more than told. Some telling is okay, but it should never outweigh the showing.

In Finding Neverland

When James goes to visit Sylvia, Sylvia's mother refuses to let him in (she is an antagonistic force that embodies the anti-themes). Previously, James had helped George come into his own. As an ally, George steps up and demands Sylvia's mother let James in. 

Important to note is that Sylvia is also a flat-arc character, but she differs in that she hasn't gained the same experience and wisdom with the primary theme that James has. While James knows playfulness is beneficial, he also understands it has limitations. Sylvia doesn't fully embrace that yet. He helps refine her understanding of it, in the climax. 

Sylvia reveals that pretending James is part of their family, has helped her through hard times. 

We cut to a scene of the stage play where Peter Pan explains that when we think wonderful thoughts, it "lifts us up" (flying with fairy dust). The audience loves the idea, and the play. 

James returns to the play, where he runs into his wife, Mary. It's implied that actually, she's the one who has been having an affair, and it's turned out to be quite the scandal. Mary expresses that she now realizes James couldn't have been successful without the friendship of the Davies family. 

The play turns out to be a huge success. Afterward, James talks to an elderly fan of his, who reveals her husband recently passed away. She validates his success and the theme by sharing that her husband would have loved the play--he was a boy at heart, even when he was suffering through his death. Playfulness helps us believe in something bigger and helps us cope. 

Peter expresses his delight in the play to James and shows he believes in the true thematic statement. 

Later, because Sylvia was unable to attend the play, James arranges to have the play performed for her at her house. Peter Pan converts Slyvia's mother to the true thematic statement. 

In Princess Mononoke

Eboshi and Jiko move forward with trying to kill the great forest spirit (a god of life and death). Doing so will weaken the forest creatures, and his head will (supposedly) grant the emperor immortality. 

San leads a wounded and diseased Okkoto toward the forest spirit's realm. Okkoto hopes the spirit will grant him power to kill the forest's enemies. He is becoming a demon from his wounds and hate. Men disguised in boars' skins follow them to see where the forest spirit is. They knock out San, who falls onto Okkoto and becomes infected by the disease. 

When Ashitaka arrives, the wolves attack the men, and Ashitaka tries to rescue San from Okkoto.

Morro, who was saving the last of her strength to kill Eboshi, decides to instead use it to save San (essentially choosing love toward her human daughter over hate toward Eboshi). 

Through the middle and into the end, Morro has always faced the reality of her death calmly and humbly. She does not succumb to something less than she is--a wolf god. In contrast, Okkoto, when faced with death, seeks to be granted power to kill his enemies and has raged onward arrogantly and destructively--he becomes less than a boar god. He becomes a mindless pig. "Don't touch him," Morro says. "He's no longer a god. You can't even speak, can you?" 

In a turn, the great forest spirit arrives and rather than grant Morro and Okkoto life to save the forest, quickens their ends, so they fall down dead--Morro peacefully and Okkoto mindlessly. The spirit doesn't seem to necessarily want to help them destroy the humans to save the forest--he doesn't seem to hate or want to fight the humans.

Just then, Eboshi arrives to kill the spirit, and Ashitaka tries to stop her. Nonetheless, the spirit gets shot and begins to die. It seems Ashitaka's efforts are useless. 

Because the great forest spirit is the god of life and death, his blood/spirit body (rendered as an ooze) begins killing anything it touches, and as it stretches out across the forest--chaos ensues. It also seems to have the ability to bring back the dead somewhat, as Morro (like a zombie) manages to attack Eboshi. Everything seems out of control. Hate is worse than we imagined as it seems to lead to the world falling apart.

Ashitaka realizes the only way to stop this, is to return the head to its body, but Eboshi and Jiko, who have put it into a container, refuse. 

Ashitaka pleads with San for help, but she doesn't listen, insisting she hates all humans. His persistence, example, and influence, however, win her over. Ashitaka helps her see that she too, is human. San finally embraces the thematic statement, the truth, and agrees to help save Iron Town from the spreading ooze. 

As Ashitaka and San work together, the ooze overtakes Iron Town. The demonic disease now spreads over both their whole bodies, but they remain calm in their quest to set things right, even if it means accepting death. 

They convince Eboshi and Jiko to allow them to return the head, and, together, peacefully offer it up to the impending ooze. As the head is accepted, a blast ripples out through the land, and the danger is diminished.

In Wonder Woman

Ares tempts Diana to join his side and carry out the anti-theme as they fight. It seems that Ares is far too powerful, and much more experienced. The odds are stacked against Diana and the allies. 

The allies realize they cannot stop the gas from going to London, and Steve comes to terms with what must be done--he must be willing to sacrifice himself (fighting for the world he believes in). He also comes to believe in Diana's world as he watches her fight Ares.

After putting on armor, Ares begins battling Diana at full strength. He says, "You will help me destroy them Diana, or you will die," escalating the stakes and cost.

As Ares gains the upper hand, he immobilizes Diana, who seems no match for him. Stuck in place, Diana watches the allies fight for what they believe in--giving everything they've got and willing to give their lives, even Steve actually giving up his life. Upset but empowered, Diana breaks free and destroys the human enemies. 

Seeing this as his chance to win her over, Ares tempts her again to embrace the anti-theme, eventually telling her to destroy Dr. Maru (who made the gas in the first place). "You know that she deserves it," Ares says. "They all do."

Diana recalls Steve's last words to her--his insistence that he must stop the plane and that he loves her and believes in her. She refuses to kill Dr. Maru, and the theme takes on a deeper meaning as she admits the humans are everything Ares says, but so much more (they may have bad in them, but they have good, too--they are gray). 

Ares insists, "They do not deserve your protection!"

Diana says, "It's not about deserve. It's about what you believe."

Harnessing Ares's own power, she is able to defeat him, proving the thematic statement true. What matters is fighting for the world you believe in--not dealing out justice to those who "deserve" it. 


As the main problems are resolved, we hit the falling action of the story. People mistakenly believe this is the time to quickly tie everything up and end the narrative. In my opinion, more importantly, the denouement is the time to validate all the changes that happened (or didn't happen) because of the journey.

During the climax, the protagonist successfully applied the true thematic statement, during his or her "final test." How does this change things? We need to see that in the denouement.

Those who upheld the truth will be rewarded--if not in this life, in the next, if not without, then within. If they died upholding the truth and weren't personally rewarded, the world will be rewarded for their sacrifice. Whatever the case, their death will be portrayed as a necessary price for wielding the truth, and not as something meaningless. They didn't die in vain. 

In contrast, those who defended the anti-theme, the lie, will usually be punished. Their life is somehow worse. And even if they may appear successful on the outside, it's hollow--they are morally damned, because they failed to embrace the accurate worldview. 

The denouement also complements and foils the beginning. While the beginning works to establish a current normal, the denouement works to establish a new normal. So often in a lot of stories, you'll see direct similarities between the beginning and the denouement. The audience wants to get an idea of what the near future looks like for these characters and this world.

In Finding Neverland

Sadly, Sylvia passes away. At the funeral, there is some brief conflict as Peter, grief-stricken, lashes out at James. Sylvia's mother speaks to James alone, and James expresses worry that maybe his friendship has indeed hurt the family. 

Sylvia's mother dispels the worry when she reveals that it was Sylvia's wish that James be co-guardian over the boys, and she's on board with that. 

James finds Peter at the park. Peter reveals that since Sylvia died, he has been writing nonstop. Peter apologizes for lashing out. James explains that Sylvia will always be with them, whenever they write or whenever they use their imaginations. She lives on in their minds and memories.

In Princess Mononoke

After the blast, something miraculous happens: all the plants begin to grow and the forest is restored. Ashitaka and San are healed of their disease (which was a metaphor for hate).

While San expresses sadness that the forest spirit is gone, Ashitaka explains he lives on, because he is life itself. "He's here right now, trying to tell us something. That it's time for both of us to live." (They are "rewarded" for choosing the true thematic statements.) There is no longer hate between the humans and forest.

Nonetheless, San expresses that she still can't forgive the humans for what they have done. To be honest, I actually feel like her line here is somewhat of a flaw that undermines the theme just a bit--it would have been more impactful if she had said something about living in peace with the humans and perhaps embraced her human self more, or at least the line should have been cut. Maybe she has more to learn. Nonetheless, we still get a sense that the humans and creatures of the forest will manage to live together, despite some differences.

Ashitaka decides he will live in Iron Town and visit San in the forest (essentially the two of them create a bridge between the humans and the forest creatures). 

Surrounded by the people of Iron Town, Eboshi expresses, "The wolves and that crazy little wolf girl saved us all," showing she has gained some understanding and appreciation of them. "We are going to start all over again. This time we'll build a better town."

Jiko expresses giving up trying to get gain at the expense of others. 

In the final image, a kodama is shown to be in the forest. Kodamas only live in healthy forests, so this implies that the world has been restored. The new normal will be better than what existed before. 

In Wonder Woman

After successfully defeating Ares, Diana sees the other allies are alive and safe. Their apparent enemies seem to be free of the turmoil war has caused. In London, people are shown celebrating the victory--the war has ended! Steve's picture is displayed alongside other war heroes. The public honors his sacrifice.

The final scene takes place in the present, showing the war photo the film opened with, as Diana tells the audience the thematic truths she has learned: "I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both, a choice each must make for themselves, something no hero can ever defeat. And now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be."

Resources and Influences:

K. M. Weiland's Character Arc Series 

Character Arcs by Jordan McCollum 

"Character Arcs 102: Flat Arcs" at The Novel Smithy 

Dramatica Theory 

Writing Characters Without Character Arcs by Just Write 


  1. Really appreciate this series! It's probably one of the best resources I've found for explaining flat-arc characters, and I loved how you broke it down into the different types. I've been having a Dickens of a time trying to figure out what character type my protagonist is, and it was good to get such a clear-cut explanation of this one. Granted, I'm still not sure whether she is one or not (Augh!), but these articles have really helped me get a better idea of how a steadfast character works. Thanks so much!

    1. Great and thank you! I was hoping it would be helpful for others (wish I had more resources earlier). I will say that some character arcs or more obvious than others--and that's fine. But it can be helpful to know the different types for sure.

  2. Thank you so much for these articles on the 'steadfast' (!) protagonist. It was exactly like you wrote in the beginning, for me: from various sources and advice I was trying to apply a change arc to my protagonist, thinking the 'flat' character is somehow inferior. Been struggling ever since, and this series is the most help I've had with my story so far.

    1. Hi Bert, I'm so glad this was helpful to you and that you took the time to comment. I'm extra glad I could save you more of a headache from trying to apply change-arc suggestions to steadfast protagonists. I really wish someone could have explained that to me, so I'm super happy to be able to help someone else, where I couldn't find help. Best wishes with the story.


I love comments :)