Character Arc Mastery

The most comprehensive program for designing captivating, realistic character transformations for all your characters. Character Arc Mastery is the only writing program of its kind with a step-by-step process that not only shows you how to create plot-driven characters—but also how to begin outlining your story based on character growth.

Say Goodbye to lifeless characters
and plots that go nowhere.

Who This Class Is For

From my sixteen years of experience helping writers design gripping stories, I’ve developed a streamlined proven process that works if you are:

whether you are...

If you are ready to dive into storytelling, you are in the right place! Character Arc Mastery will give you the tools, inspiration, and step-by-step guidance needed to design a compelling, plot-driven character and chart out her growth through specific plot events.

If you're stuck, there's probably a good reason.

Most writers focus on surface story action and make character growth a secondary issue.

But this is backwards and leads to writer’s block, flat characters, and an aimless plot.

Your character’s internal development should drive the story events. 

When you design your character’s transformation first, the plot begins to write itself, everything is cohesive, and the reader is more engaged.

Untitled design-4
Untitled design-4

You might have a character arc issue if...

A character arc is the emotional and mental journey your character goes on through a story’s events

By the end of this course

You will have...



your character’s overarching, non-formulaic change trajectory.



how to develop multiple arc types, including positive, negative, and flat arcs, characters who change a lot, and those that change subtly.



your character’s identity at the beginning and end of the story.


Broken Down

your character’s grand transformation into smaller, meaningful incremental changes.



scenes that unite surface action with internal character development.



your scenes with conflict, tension, and stakes for maximum drama.

I love this and the way that Barbara explains. I couldn’t help going through different books I’ve read and start cataloging the arcs—which ones I liked and disliked. It seems I have a type. Really, really helpful!

man 2 green


Honestly, take all of Barbara’s classes. If you want to learn how to really get started on your novel or long piece, then her courses are unbeatable. She really explains all the terminology, uses clear examples, and even provides printable resources! I can’t recommend her courses enough.

woman yellow


Character Arc Sales Image

If you're ready to dive into your story then join Character Arc Mastery and let’s get started!


A Track Record of Student Success

Hear What they have to say

Sixteen years teaching thousands of students.

Barbara is a really amazing teacher! Her classes are always helpful, and she always brings something new for you. I usually come with an idea that is still blurred in my mind, and then she explains something that makes me understand where I want to go with my story and how I can do it. I couldn't recommend it more for you guys!

Man Avatar Yellow


I appreciated how Barbara gave in-depth examples to illustrate the points being made. It was easier to put the pieces together with those examples. Also, she has a manner that makes her very watchable. This is truly good information in this class. I was pleased with how meaty it actually is.

Woman Blue Ponytail


Not everyone who can do it can teach it. I've watched hours of masterclasses, tutorials, and online lessons on writing, and I must say that this course is a breath of fresh air. Barbara is a gifted teacher; the way she explains topics, the exercises, and even the worksheet provided make this a truly engaging experience.

bearded man 2 purple


I was totally blown away. It's not just about the principles; the exercises were really helpful. I've been watching movies and dissecting stories on my own now with the tools I learned from this course. I'm learning so much more this way.

woman 3 yellow


I have a MA in Creative Writing, and I wish I had a course that went this in-depth on characterization! I originally started taking Barbara's courses as "refreshers," but I didn't realize that I would be learning so much new material. So helpful, and it's such a relief knowing I can go to Barbara's videos for reliable, action-provoking content. Thanks for sparking my creativity and for giving me helpful templates that make taking action easier!

Bearded Man Green


Overcome your story challenges

What's Inside Character Arc Mastery?

Three modules that will transform your writing.

Module 1


This module is all about outlining the essential building blocks for your character, and the first item on the list is setting you up for writing success.

As a long-time story educator and consultant, I know exactly where most students get stuck in the creative writing process. I don’t want you just to design a character arc, I want you to finish your story, so this module begins by showing you how to set up a time and place to write. We then talk about how to avoid the most common writing pitfalls.

We will walk through the two paths you can take through the class: creating your own character arc or discovering how to deconstruct character arcs in stories you love, which will inspire you so much.

Finally, you will recognize the two stories that comprise a plot, how each works, and you will get started designing your own.


Module 2

Arc Types

Raise your hand if you have had this problem: You know your character needs to be more developed, but all of the articles you find want to confine a character into a small set of prescribed formulas—NONE of which matches your vision.

I understand.

As a storyteller, you want to express the character you have in mind fully, but you also want to have an organized plan of how you will take her from point A to point B.

Module 2 solves this problem by introducing you to the most common types of character arcs, examining them based on psychology and cause-effect, NOT cookie-cutter formulas. Discover how to write grand hero transformations, subtle literary growth arcs, nuanced fall arcs that consider the reason for the character’s decline and how far he falls, and characters who remain relatively unchanged.


Module 3

Defining & Dramatizing Character Change

When it comes to writing, nothing is worse than getting your story well underway to discover you didn’t know where you were going, and now you are stuck.

This is a nightmare many writers encounter.

They would like to have direction, but they are afraid of stifling their creativity or think they will figure it out as they go.

So they just start writing, hoping that it will somehow work out. Fortunately, there is a better way, and in Module 3, I will show you how to craft a thoughtful, intriguing character arc that will save you untold amounts of time and heartache. No running in circles, no detours that go nowhere. Practical steps that get results.


The full course includes:


The Complete, Step-by-Step Character-Arc Design Roadmap

showing you EVERYTHING you need to create captivating, plot-driven, characters with strategically chosen traits and transformations.

Extensive Workbooks, Videos & Guides

that detail all arc types with examples, provide practical advice for writing consistently, walk you through every step of the development process.

A Clear Process to Begin Plotting Story Events Based on Character

that will have you outlining key story events tied to character growth for maximum drama.

A Story-Design Plan

so you can design a plot that weaves dramatic action with the inner development of the characters.

(A $250 value)

Risk Free | Guarantee

100% Risk-Free Money Back Guarantee

Character Arc Mastery is the comprehensive, step-by-step, non-formulaic writing course for writers who want to design truly unique characters and are committed to getting their story out of their head and onto the page.

I have taught character and story development for years to THOUSANDS of students, and I know what works! The workbooks and support guides provided will have you brainstorming and defining your character every step of the way.

If you take the course and don’t feel like your character’s growth is better defined and more connected to the plot, simply reach out to us, show us you have made an effort, and we will refund your full investment. Full details here >>

write better, faster

Character Arc Mastery is the definitive guide to writing plot-driven characters. No more crippling writer’s block, directionless stories, and flat characters. Just clear steps that help you start and finish your story.

Character Arc Sales Image

If you're ready to dive into your story then join Character Arc Mastery and let’s get started!


Wondering if this course is right for you?

Common Questions

your fellow students asked before taking this class...

That’s okay! You don’t have to have a story in mind to benefit from this class. This course offers two paths: one to help you design a character, the other to analyze characters from books and films you love. I recommend both methods for all of my students. In general, you will find that if you examine other stories, you will likely have a character/story idea by the time the class is over.

My students range from beginners to seasoned storytellers with MFAs in creative writing. While there is timeless story theory, I teach character-arc design in a unique way that does not rely on the formulas often found in writing books. This class will push you to develop highly nuanced characters, and it is designed for storytellers at varying levels of expertise.

You are in the right place. This course will provide considerable insight into how story works, and you will be so glad you learned it early on! It is painful to get 100 pages into a story and discover you are doing it wrong. Using these methods now will help you write a better story faster.

I won’t lie; writing an incredible story takes time.

However . . .

This method will help you write faster because it walks you through a process that will keep you on track, prevent you from hitting common roadblocks, and will actually help you choose plot events. It surprises people when I tell them that character design should result in automatically discovering events in your story, but it’s true!

Also, I know how busy life can be. Character Arc Mastery’s lesson are bite-sized, and the class also offers a guide of recommended practices you can do to make the most of your writing time. And since you have the entire course at once, you can pace yourself and go at the speed that is comfortable for you.

If you can invest an hour or two every week, you can do this.

Your time is precious, which is why EVERYTHING in my class is designed to move you closer to your goal. No fluff.

Most of my students have been able to find pockets of time once they got motivated about their story and put into practice the “best practices” I outline in this class.

I have never had a student who regretted the time he put in on a class, but I have had many students who, after taking my courses, regretted they had not started writing sooner.

Well, ahem. I am so glad you are here.

Storytelling is complicated. There are a lot of moving parts. That is why my courses break the creative-writing process down into manageable steps that you can do in small bites of time. You will see all of the little decisions you need to make, the best order in which to make them, and how they fit into the overarching story structure.

That being said, once you start working in the methods and frameworks of my courses, you will find it helps simplify and streamline the process, making writing easier.

When we are acquiring a new skill, there is often a point when we realize how much we have to learn. However, once you get going in the class, I think you will feel MUCH BETTER about things.

This class will definitely help you choose plot events for your story and figure out how to maximize their emotional and suspense potential.

That being said, plotting a story is a beast all its own. This course does not cover all of the nuances of plot development. If you want a great overview of how plot works and how to structure your story, I recommend my Plot Essentials Workshop. It will give you a fantastic overview and get you started. (But it is DEFINITELY NOT a replacement for this course).

Once you join, you can test things out for 7 days and work through the Character Arc Types Workbook and the Character Arc Workbook

This means you will have the opportunity to choose, design, and start plotting your entire character arc BEFORE making a final commitment to the remainder of the program.

If you don’t feel totally confident and motivated by your character arc, simply reach out, show us you have put in the work, and you will be eligible for a full refund. Terms of Service here.

No. This course teaches a proven, step-by-step method for discovering your character’s unique arc. No formulas. No forcing your characters into a prescribed box. No getting deflated about your character because, once you forced her into restrictive specifications, she stopped feeling like your character.

Untitled design-4

If you think this sounds amazing, but you’re not 100% sure . . .

I understand! I have thought considerably about courses I purchased as well. I genuinely don’t want you to take a class that isn’t for you. In my experience, I recommend giving Character Arc Mastery a 7-day risk-free try if you are motivated by any of the following…


You need to use your creativity more . . and you are DONE neglecting it.

If you are like many of my students, you have had the seed of an idea in your head for a while, but life seems to get in the way. Whether it is work, family, or just being exhausted at the end of the day, you haven’t started.

But that unwritten story? It’s eating at you. And while your other commitments absolutely matter, you would rather not find yourself in ten years regretting that you never tried.

That’s why you’re ready to take a leap—so that you can discover and develop the imaginative potential you KNOW is inside you. And because Character Arc Mastery is designed to get you writing immediately, without the fluff, in bite-size lessons and activities, you know if you just start, you will get there.


You Don’t Have Time for Writer’s Block

You’re busy. You cannot afford to spend your writing time staring at the screen wondering what to say.

You need a method that simplifies the storytelling process, steers you clear of pitfalls, and helps you actually finish.

Character Arc Mastery helps you create a map of your character’s transformation throughout the story and then base your surface story events on that development.

This means that when you sit down to write you have already determined many of the scenes that need to be written . . . and they are all deeply relevant to the character’s development.

And because it is so strategic, you actually write better, faster so that you don’t just start your story, you finish it.


You know a fresh perspective can tear down roadblocks and get the train back on the track.

Maybe you have already started a story, and you were excited. Things were going well . . . until they weren’t.

Your character isn’t as real as you would like, and you’re unsure where the plot is headed.

You are not alone; we have all been there.

The good news is that often all it takes to get things going again is a new way of looking at things. Sometimes an artist will turn his drawing upside-down and work that way just to jolt his eyes out of what he is used to seeing.

As frustrated as you might feel, you aren’t ready to give up on your story. You know writing isn’t easy, but if you push through the tough bits, the reward is real.

So you are showing up ready for a new way of looking at things. Because quitting isn’t an option.


Not knowing how to start won’t keep you from starting.

You know storytelling is complicated and, while you know what you love in books and films, when you sit down to write yourself, you aren’t sure what to do first.

But you are not going to let that stop you from starting.

What you need are clearly outlined steps and solid examples from great stories.

Character Arc Mastery breaks the writing process down and shows you how it actually works in literature and film. You will be surprised how quickly you see a way forward!

I love this and the way that Barbara explains. I couldn’t help going through different books I’ve read and start cataloging the arcs—which ones I liked and disliked. It seems I have a type. Really, really helpful!



Character Arc Sales Image

If you're ready to dive into your story then join Character Arc Mastery and let’s get started!


A Little About Me...

My name is Barbara Vance, and over the past sixteen years I have helped thousands of writers bring their stories to life.

What started as an early and sincere delight in literature turned into focused study on what makes stories good. How do they work? This culminated in a PhD in storytelling and media, and a subsequent position at a tier-one university.

But I wanted to do more. I wanted to reach more people and provide them not just with the knowledge I had accumulated over the years, but also actionable, step-by-step processes that would help them find and develop their characters and stories, stay on track, and finish what they started . . . even while juggling busy careers and a family.

As a published author and educator, I don’t just understand story; I understand storytellers. I know the challenges and rewards of articulating a creative vision. 

So I created a collection of proven courses that delve deeply into the components of great stories and how to write them.

It is a joy and an honor to help so many find their voice, discover their story, and get it done.

If you're still on the fence, consider this...

A good story can make people see themselves
and the world in life-changing ways.

Storytelling forces you to articulate yourself and your beliefs; it allows you to explore abstract themes and concepts; it dares you to imagine the unimaginable.

I have seen so many creative, remarkable people come to life in entirely new ways because they dreamed up a character, put him in a world, and set events into motion. They gave life to a fictional person, but in doing so, they became more alive themselves.

This is not an overstatement. When we are young, the world tells us to explore and use our creative potential to the fullest, but as the years go by, it is easy for that potential to be pushed to the back burner and eventually removed from the stovetop entirely. And if you have a creative heart, that is crushing.

If you feel a nagging ache that you are not using your imagination and not creating, it’s because you were made to create! And, perhaps now more than ever, the world needs your story.

Writing is a brave thing to do. It is a worthy thing to do.

I know my courses work because I have seen them work so many times. This class truly is from my heart to yours. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Thank you for considering my work. I so hope you will give it a try.

All my best,