The Lie We Believe

In preparation for our new improvised fictional podcast entitled “Your Secret’s Safe With Gus” we read through K.M. Weiland’s “Creating Character Arcs” and found a treasure trove of applied theory.

She writes about “the lie the character believes” which is an amazing concept.

The Change Arc is all about the Lie Your Character Believes. His life may be horrible, or his life may seem pretty great. But, festering under the surface, is the Lie.

In order for your character to evolve in a positive way, he has to start out with something lacking in his life, some reason that makes the change necessary. He is incomplete in some way, but not because he is lacking something external. A person in a prison camp can still be entirely whole and balanced on the inside, while someone floating in a Malibu mansion’s swimming pool may be one miserable son of a gun. – K.M. Weiland

Nope, your character is incomplete on the inside. He is harboring some deeply held misconception about either himself, the world, or, probably, both.

If we do not believe a lie then there is no need to change. So what is your lie? What is keeping you from the best version of yourself?

The Change Arc, at its simplest manifestation, is all about the protagonist’s changing priorities. He realizes the reason he’s not getting what he wants in the plot is because either a) he wants the wrong thing or b) his moral methods for achieving what he wants are all wrong. – K.M. Weiland

This aligns with the “Crucial Conversations” concept of the stories we tell ourselves.

K.M. Weiland breaks it down into three types of arcs:

  • Positive Arc – the character works his way to the truth and out of the lie he believes
  • Flat Arc – the character knows the truth and uses it to circumvent obstacles.
  • Negative Arc – the character works their way deeper into the lie. They double down instead of working their way out.

The realization was that a major part of my purpose on this planet is to help others see the lie that they are telling themselves and to for me to be a force that helps them move through a positive arc.

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