Welcome to the second month of the year! If you have been playing along, you are now on your 32nd writing prompt.
If you are just joining us, you can always go back and play catch up. Or, just start here and go forward. Although, it is wise to at least read through the older prompts, as each one has a little writing lesson included.
A new month, a new week and I figured we should start a new type of lesson.
So today, we will focus our writing on the arcs. Each story should have several arcs. There are the character arcs, of course, and the plot arcs. Main plot and sub plot each have their own arcs.
So let’s start there
A story arc (or plot arc, or narrative arc, or Peter. Whatever you want to call it), is the process the story takes from beginning to end.
There should be a starting point, an inciting incident, a rise, a climax, a fall, a resolution, and a denouement.
Basically, in laymen terms, you have the start of your story where everything is going just like it has every day. Then! Something happens.
This something causes your characters to have to react. So, they make their changes and establish a new routine. This new routine takes them closer and closer to meeting up with the cause of the something that happened.
They battle through it and things start to calm down. Eventually they will reach a point where the story is resolved, and that initial something is a thing of the past. Everyone accepts it and continues on, as before, back to the ordinary and routine.
Here is a short at dirty example:
Bob lays on his couch, eating Cheetos and watching Oprah (starting point). When suddenly, the power goes out (inciting incident). Bob leaps off the couch and fumbles for his phone in the dark (rise).
He makes a call to the power company and gets the run around. Eventually he gets through to the manager on duty and engages in a heated discussion (climax).
The manager notices that the account number they cancelled was one number off from Bob’s and apologizes, promising to restore his power soon. (fall).
Bob paces in the dark, waiting for the power to come back on (resolution). Power is restored and Bob opens a bag of Doritos and starts watching Ellen (denouement).
So there you have it. 3 ways to say the same thing. I hope you get it now. If not, we will work on a standard blog post covering the arcs later.
For now, let’s take a look at the writing prompt for today.
Write out a standard narrative arc for your story.
This is more of a visual, planning type of prompt, instead of a “sit down and write” type of prompt.
But, if you are going to tell a story, you need to know how that story should progress.
So today, I want you to take your work in progress and write out the basic story arc it takes. Don’t worry about characters and sub plots for now (we will get to those).
Instead, just focus on the main story line.
Write out your arc points one at a time and explain them in more detail.
If you are looking for a challenge, start a brand new story idea right now and use that one. Or, pick out one of your favorite books and deconstruct it to write out a narrative arc for that book.
When you are done, post what you have in the comment section below the post! I’d love to see it.
Here is what I came up with
I will be using the narrative arc for my novel Tremble. This is also the same novel I use when going through the Extra Draft Writing Method course.
In the video course you will get to watch me write along with you and see how that novel progresses from an idea to a finished product.
For now, we will just focus on the story arc.
Start: Ryan and Jessica Alicea are getting ready for their weekly traditional barbecue with their long time friends and neighbors, the Windfell’s. They must go to the store and get things ready before the Windfell’s arrive.
Inciting Incident: The Windfell’s arrive to find the Alicea’s are gone. Broken wine and bourbon bottles are all over the floor, there is blood and signs of a struggle. They’ve been abducted.
Rising Action: Ryan must constantly prove his love for Jess through self-torture. The abductor threatens to torture Jess in front of Ryan unless Ryan performs the torture method on himself.
Climax: After a series of brutal torture and self-mutilation scenarios, Ryan is forced to make a final decision, save himself, or save them both. His choice is left up to him, based on everything he has gone through and learned over the course of the story.
Falling Action: After making his decision, Ryan is attended to at the hospital until he is well enough to go home.
Resolution: Ryan learns that his choice was the right one to make, even if it wasn’t the one he wanted, especially after learning the full story.
Denouement: Ryan must become accustomed to his new life, disabilities and living with his more permanent injuries, including those of his wife, Jessica.