It must be love: an exploration of the character arc model in screenwriting practice and theory.

Authors: Mathews, P.

Conference: Bournemouth University, Faculty of Media and Communication


This practice led research is a study into the contested screenwriting narrative form known as the ‘character arc’. The character arc is a term that refers to the motivational and emotional trajectory of a character through the totality of a given narrative. Through practice I developed an original cinematic screenplay It Must be Love, as a way of exploring the research questions and enabling me to critically reflect upon the creative development and writing process. The two areas that framed this practice led research were the character arc, and the romance genre.

The study considers the development of various theories of the character arc before defining its form through methods of textual analysis, practice and critical reflection. The practice screenplay It Must be Love was developed as a romance. In consideration of this, the impact of genre will be referenced throughout the exegesis.

This practice-led research arrived at a new definition of the character arc illustrating that it can operate across genres and is autonomous of other narrative forms. This research also found that characters may arc multiple times within a given narrative. These findings may be salient to screenwriting practitioners in developing or exploring their practice and widens the debate around this narrative form.

Source: Manual

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