Does The Protagonist Need A Character Arc? - Shannan E. Johnson

Film Courage: Does the protagonist always need a character arc?

Writer/Instructor and Script Consultant Shannan E. Johnson (The Professional Pen): In my opinion yes but it doesn’t have to be a big one. For example, this is TV so it’s a little different. TV the arc can be like this big. It doesn’t really have to go anywhere. If we think about HOUSE, the biggest thing for him is he is like a curmudgeon kind of guy (he’s grumpy). I don’t need to see him become joyful by the end of the series. But there may be something else in him that is going to change tiny-bit-by-tiny-bit-by-tiny-bit as the series goes.

Whereas if you look at a show like SCANDAL Olivia Pope starts with a white hat. But the end of the series she’s got a black hat. But you get all of that time to see her grow.

What I say to people is most of the time your protagonist is moving not because they just have an external goal but because the internal goal is what really needs to be fixed. As they are going along their journey…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).






About Shannan:

After grad school I became a junior creative executive at NBCUniversal at the Syfy Channel. I was there for the rebrand. Remember Sci Fi? Yeah, not really. Anywho, it was my job to help writers and producers take their ideas from pitch to production. I co-exec’d on Alphas, Being Human, Haven, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, and more Syfy dramedies. This is how I honed my skill in all stages of the screenwriting process…(read more here).


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