Monday, May 30, 2011

Effective Story Arc

Today I wanted to touch on creating an effective story arc. When I first started writing I had never heard of a story arc, yet I understood exactly what it was once I started reading up on it.

Simply put I don't want a flat story. Things have to happen to get my character to the end.

The most straight forward information I've found yet on how exactly to do this was in a Writer's Digest Magazine - the July/August 2010 issue to be exact.

In the article, by Adair Lara, you need to have the following things: desire line, emotional beats, initiating incident, and an ending incident. Not hard. But you need to create an arc, like a hill. The characters must travel up one side to get to the other side before they can reach their goal.

So, mentally picture a hill with obstacles, actions, and finally an ending. That's what I'm trying to create right now. If you've read enough of my blog posts then you know I don't sit down and plot out my novels ahead of time. No, instead I fly by the seat of my pants and write the first draft from nothing, generally. It's only after the first draft (rough draft) is finished that I sit down and begin plotting through the use of an outline.

Unfortunately, I have never given much thought to creating a perfect story arc until now. So, I'm going to have to sit myself down and mark specific emotional beats throughout my manuscript. These emotional beats are really obstacles that my main character has to overcome. To do this I am taking the advice found in the article and creating a list of what my character wants (desire line), what she has to do to get it (action), what gets in her way (obstacle), and then her next move (action) and  so on down the line until I get from the inciting incident to the ending incident. Or, at least in my case, the ending of book one and set up for book two.

I'm not sure how this will all go since I have never before created an actual outline of such, but we will see. My main purpose of this is to see if I indeed have a good story arc or not. If not I will have to come up with something new to snag up my main characters journey. You see one thing I've learn is that each obstacle should become bigger and dig a bigger hole for the main character to climb out of in the end, making the ending that much sweeter.

Your Turn -> What are your thoughts on story arcs? Do you even bother with taking a deeper look at them?

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