Today we'll talk sequel and series character arcs
Last Week we talked about character arcs. They're an important element of fiction writing…although a lot of the time, there is no arc! But a strong, unpredictable character arc can be a great help in driving a story from beginning to end, and making it a tale worth telling.
But what about sequels? And ongoing series, where the same characters appear over and over? How do we approach arcs in those cases? A few ideas occur to me…
The Slow Roll
Slow rolling is a poker term. As a big fan of that game, I couldn't resist!
This is where the progress of the characters happens very gradually over time. This is very common in modern TV shows, where an entire season of episodes is planned at once. The entire season or series is one long story, with a strong idea of where the character starts and ends (with room for side trips and nuance along the way).
A looser approach would be to focus mainly on the drama, mission, mystery, or comedic hijinks of the week, while gradually moving the characters to change.
One Day at a Time
A slightly different method would be to give the lead characters a strong emotional arc within each episode. The characters will generally not change completely of course, but each story will establish an emotional state at the beginning of the episode, and take them somewhere else by the end. I thought this was handled superbly for several seasons of the show Supernatural.
There was some big emotional thing with one or both brothers in almost every episode, a personal problem to deal with, which would of course match as a metaphor to whatever monster or ghost they encountered that week. Each episode would resolve or create a new issue between the brothers that would be furthered or resolved in the next episode. Very impressive!
And again, another approach is to give the characters plot-related challenges in each episode, but have the characters remain pretty much the same. I get this sense from the various CSI shows (though I'm not sure, since i don't really watch) as well as comedies like 30 Rock and Two and a Half Men.
Next week I'll revisit the discussion about Iron Man's character arc through the movies, and expand it to include all his appearances so far, just in time for Avengers Infinity War (can't wait to see this thing!)
…On our next exciting episode!
Banes at 12:00AM, April 19, 2018
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