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You know about the character arc--do you know about the audience arc?

In my workshop at Raindance the other day we talked about the character arc, the transformation of the protagonist that is common to many films and novels. Less familiar is what I call the Audience arc.

The Audience Arc is a change in the audience's perception of the protagonist.

This is an exception to the "rule" that something has to change in the lives of the characters between the start and the finish of the film, and it is especially useful in short films and short stories. 

For instance, a short film could start with a young boy smashing the windows of a church for no apparent reason. A neighbor grabs him and takes him to the Priest, saying they should call the police. The kindly priest says the boy is just misguided; he'll talk to him and with God's love everything will be all right.

The priest takes the boy inside and in the course of their conversation we realize that the priest has been abusing the boy. The boy tried telling his father but was punished for lying. 

It could end with the priest letting the boy go but telling him to visit him later at his (the priest's) home or the priest will report the damage, and we know the boy will be abused again

Neither the boy nor the priest has changed, but the audience's feelings about the characters has changed in a way that engages the audience's emotions--we start off thinking the boy is a delinquent and the priest is a kind man, and end up feeling terrible for the boy and hating the priest.

This post first appeared on Time To Write, please read the originial post: here

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You know about the character arc--do you know about the audience arc?


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