From Writers Helping Writers:
In studying character arcs, writers easily recognize Positive-Change Arcs and Negative-Change Arcs. But somewhat more baffling can be the stories that appear to feature neither. These are stories in which the protagonist does not change or seems to have no character arc at all. How do these stories fit into the discussion of archetypal character arcs?
If you’ve studied foundational character-arc theory and practice with me before, you know there are two possible answers to the seeming conundrum of the “character with no arc.”
One is simply that he or she doesn’t arc. Both the protagonist, the supporting cast, and the story world itself remain relatively unchanged from beginning to end, despite everyone’s adventures. Indeed, the very point of their adventures might be to maintain a desirable status quo.
The other possibility is that the unchanging protagonist is in fact spearheading what I call a Flat Arc. As the name suggests, this is an arc in which the protagonist—the story’s central actor—remains thematically unchanged, but uses his or her understanding of the story’s central thematic Truth to catalyze change arcs in the supporting characters. (Flat-Arc protagonists are usually positive influences, or Impact Characters, but if their fixation is on the thematic Lie rather than the Truth, they can also be instrumental in catalyzing Negative-Change Arcs for the supporting characters.)
Over the last few months, we have explored six successive “life arcs,” represented by the Positive-Change Arcs of six primary archetypes—the Maiden, the Hero, the Queen, the King, the Crone, and the Mage. Each of these positive archetypes represents a rising above the limitations of the previous archetype in the cycle. They also inherently represent a struggle with twelve related “shadow” or negative archetypes—the Damsel/Vixen, the Coward/Bully, the Snow Queen/Sorceress, the Puppet/Tyrant, the Hermit/Witch, and the Miser/Sorcerer.
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6 Flat or “Resting” Archetypes
The six flat or resting archetypes can be seen like this:
1. Child (precedes Maiden Arc)
2. Lover (precedes Hero Arc)
3. Parent (precedes Queen Arc)
4. Ruler (precedes King Arc)
5. Elder (precedes Crone Arc)
6. Mentor (precedes Mage Arc)
Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers
After reading through the OP (although not clicking on the large number links that presumably provide more detail about the various terms of art used), PG is more sympathetic to those who are intimidated when they read a publishing contract.
(PG will note that this appears to be Part 15 and expects that reading Parts 1-14 first would clarify a great many things.)