When we consider the curvature of any arc, be it personal or historical, the bend can be perceived positively and negatively. In any story it comes down to who experiences the arc to decide whether or not the trend is good or bad. In my method of storytelling, you the reader make that decision, not me. I can plot out the structure of any story and show you how I perceive it, but what matters it how the readers take it in.
Obi-Wan Kenobi once said – “What I said was true, from a certain point of view.”
I could sit here today and make a case for Obi-Wan being a negative character. First off, he’s a liar, and in some respects a habitual one. Once we get past that, we see that he uses Luke for his own means at exacting a thirty year revenge plot against his former student, who is also Luke’s father. It’s fucked up, but the way Lucas shows it to us, we are asked to perceive it him as a mentor character who helps the hero with a thousand faces (Luke) grow into the character he’s destined to be. For the most part people see Kenobi as a teacher and helper, but with a different set of lenses we might see him in a different light.
Personal experiences cloud our reactions to events around us. We rarely see things in a completely neutral state because we’ve been molded by our experiences. Our time on this Earth changes the way we react to everything that happens in our immediate circles and those presented to us by the media. We are under constant pressure by information outlets to perceive things in the narrative they present them. One outlet says one thing, and the other says the opposite, cleaving the truth (whatever that really is that this point) into fragmented versions of itself. Every single news and social media outlet impresses on our perceptions of the arcs around us, in local and national events, which is why I insist on finding my own truth after listening to all opinions. I refuse to allow anyone to control my arc other than me.
In the new piece I’m working on there are many moving parts and many characters. This means I have to judge what kind of arc they have. As I have the power of the pen, I get to choose how it is meant to be seen. There are a few potential positive arcs available, yet a few negative arcs as well. There is a third arc – the flat arc. These are usually reserved for characters who accompany protagonists and have already found their own truth. They never awaken to any larger world or understanding, by the time we interact with them, they are already on the proper path.
If you took a moment, what arc would you say you’re most akin to? The positive arc, where you’re still searching for your own personal truth which will help transform you into something you were always meant to be? The flat arc, as described above, a person who has already found their truth and remains resolute in that viewpoint until the end? The negative arc, wherein you’ve been presented with the truth you were meant to hear, but you turned away from it to walk a different path?
Now consider what arc the people close to you are on. Or the city you live in, hell even the country as a whole. Now remember that whatever your reaction to those questions were, they are simply your perception of it, and not the readers. Characters don’t get to read thier own stories, only others do. The readers of your life are those around you and their perception of your arc isn’t always the truth.
Only you can find the truth.
Addendum: After all the hard work my wife and I have put into rehabbing this house, we are finally going on the market next Thursday. We are very excited to see how it does and hopefully the people who come see it appreciate all the upgrades. It’s been a week of mostly tunnel vision projects, but in the end we believe it will be worth it. No matter what happens we have transformed our home into something better.
For me personally, concentration on anything else other than the house was near impossible this past month and my writing has absolutely suffered. It is to be expected, and even though other writers told me this would happen, I always held out hope that I’d manage somehow. All the energy placed in getting the house to this point was served as an important life lesson for me. I won’t share that lesson now, but maybe over drinks at some point.