Inside Story

The Power of the Transformational Arc
by Dara Marks

Dara Marks is rated Hollywood’s #1 script consultant, but don’t pass this book by because it’s written primarily for screenwriters.
If you cringe when asked what the theme of your story is, this book is for you. Dara’s techniques and methods, demonstrate not only how to create powerful character arcs in which the external conflicts and problems in the story impact the hero or heroine’s internal reality, but also how to turn that inner transformation into the driving force (theme) behind the story. The protagonist’s fatal flaw is the key element in setting up the theme of the story, and as the protagonist struggles to resolve the conflict of the plot, he or she should be forced to grow toward the thematic value set up by the flaw.

Stories that fail to depict a meaningful internal transformation will have no lasting impact on its reader (or viewer in the case of screenplays). Writers, like film producers, often add high action twists and turns to create a strong (and necessary) sense of urgency, however, many fail to realize that it’s equally essential to convey that sense of importance to the internal story behind the action. Dara stresses that if what your protagonist achieves by the end of the story, he was capable of achieving before it started, than no real transformative journey has taken place.

Dara sets out to “illustrate that when the dramatic tension is focused on the internal conflict, the external action becomes much more powerful and significant because it reflects what we know to be true about our own lives: We (and our characters) grow and evolve internally in direct relationship to the conflicts and obstacles that we face and overcome in the external world.” And she’s convinced me. I highly recommend this book.