Rumor has it that your characters are supposed to grow over the course of your story. Great, something else to keep track of. As of my incessant use of commas and prepositional phrases weren't enough!
All jokes aside, developing your character's arc is harder than it sounds. I've been thinking a lot about the LoTR and Star Wars series for their treatment of the Hero's Journey, compliments of Joseph Campbell. Information about the Hero's Journey can be found here.
Once familiar with the concept, you see it everywhere. Disney movies, Star Wars, LoTR, and what I feel is one of the better examples, Homer's Odyssey.
Bringing it back down a notch since I'm nowhere near Lucas, Tolkein, or freaking Homer (!) in my writing chops, I have been paying close attention to incorporating elements of the the Hero's Journey in my current wip. The tricky part is to do it so it's not so glaringly obvious.
Look at the Call to Action followed by the Refusal of the Call. Your hero learns what needs to be done and declines. No thanks, they say. And then they list all the reasons they can't do it. Usually, those reasons include being physically too small because really, who doesn't love a good underdog story?
The whole idea of the Hero's Journey is fascinating. If you're working on an adventure story, it will help organize your events and will hopefully engage your reader to keep going, eager to see how your main character comes out on the other side.
Or if you're a nerd like me, keep a list of the steps handy while watching The Fellowship of the Ring and tell me you don't laugh at Step 4: Crossing the first threshold when Sam and Frodo physically stop to point out they're leaving the Shire. Nicely done, Peter Jackson.
No? You don't laugh? Never mind then. I'm just a dork. Carry on.
You tell me--how do you treat a character arc? What does that mean to you?