Plot & Structure Exercise 29: Quick and Dirty Plotting Via Character Development

Make a character arc table. The top row has the major challenges to your character’s inner life. The bottom row has how these challenges affect the lead as a result.


I’m thinking this is a good way to get some waypoints plotted, just imagining how the lead will react to different events in the story. Lots will be missing, but here are some ideas that come to mind:


  1. [Present] Disturbance, receives email reply from Sam. Juan feels a pain, a shift in his image.
  2. [Present] Meets private student. Juan exposes his belief, that he doesn’t care about cheating.
  3. [Present] Doesn’t say bye to his wife who leaves him. Juan does value marriage and love, so feels hurt.
  4. [Present] Sam shows up at his door. Juan lets it out on Sam, revealing his dominant attitudes.
  5. [Present] They start telling the story. Stating his opinion, that life is over for them, both feel happy to talk.
  6. [Past] Juan trips acid, Sam bombs photo exhibit. Both learn the seriousness of life.
  7. [Past] They buy tickets to SE Asia. But in order to avoid the seriousness, they leave their lives behind.
  8. [Past] Juan breaks the fall of a boy who was climbing a wall. Maybe life is bigger than he thinks, prays.
  9. [Past] Watching the sunrise with strangers. Meaning of friendship hits him.
  10. [Past] Winning a hostel game. Learns that life has ups and downs.
  11. [Present] Wife returns, and Sam admits he lost his. Deep disturbance, contemplates death as a neutral thing.
  12. [Past] The boys buy bikes with their third friend, Archie.
  13. [Past] Nearly die in a crash. He can survive, he learns.
  14. [Past] Mission with mafia. He coldly ventures out, sees how much he can risk.
  15. [Past] Sam meets Anais, Juan watches them make love. Jealousy disturbs him.
  16. [Past] Juan tries to bed Anais, but she denies him. He feels he’s not good enough.
  17. [Past] In Osaka, talk a man out of cutting himself open.  Juan feels even more hopeless.
  18. [Past] On a volcano, Sam stops Juan from falling to his death. Juan feels grossly in debt to Sam.
  19. [Past] Juan lies about having slept with Anais, the boys go their separate ways. Juan feels released, but bad.
  20. [Present] Sam says he knew, but was waiting for Juan to say something. Juan feels life has many chances.
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