Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day Five of the Journey and a Writing Question

Do you hear a rumbling noise?

It's getting closer.

Look! Up ahead! WOW!

Is that awesome or what?

I can feel the mist on my face, 
smell the scent of earth and woods.

Let's take a break, 
enjoy the beauty,
and click here 
to leave today's comment.

Writing Question...

A friend emailed and asked me :
Could you describe what a story arc and a character arc are? These words are being used all the time and I'm not sure I know what they are. Is it another way of saying plot and character?

I guess you could strip it down and say story arc and character arc are plot and character. But then the question is...what makes up a plot? And what makes up a character? 

A story arc should build within your plot. From page one your plot starts at the beginning plot point and moves from one plot point to another always building toward the climax. Yes, you can have a few red-herrings, but even the red-herrings should push the plot towards the arc of your story--the climatic scene where the feathers hit the fan. This is the top of the story arc. What follows after should wrap up the story. Don't take too long, but make it satisfying.

A character arc should follow the inner conflict of your protagonist. At the beginning of your story your character should have some inner demon he wrestles with. As your character travels through the story so should his inner conflict build as he assesses his situation and the demons that haunt him. The character's arc reaches a climax when he faces that demon riding his shoulder and changes.

Now the best way to handle story arcs and character arcs are to have them both come to a head during the climax. AND what captures your reader is when the character's "choice to change" helps him with the climax of the story. Donald Maass says this about the subject, "People do not change without, in some way, acting out." And what better way to show this than to have the character arc happen at the same time as the story arc.  Another quote from Maass, "...make sure when the dust settles, your hero will never be the same again."

I hope that answers the question.

If you have a question about fiction writing please feel free to email me.


  1. Love that waterfall picture! Thanks for the writing tips, too.

  2. I'm really enjoying reading all the different reviews on the tour. It's neat to see how everyone seems to focus on different aspects of the story.

  3. Laura,
    Isn't that waterfall something? It reminds me of the waterfall in the movie Up. You never know what's around the river's bend. ;)

  4. Carol,
    I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying the reviews. I worried that they might get repetitious, but so far so good. Plus, I'm hopeful that I've given you new sites to follow. Thanks for coming on the journey!

  5. Thanks for explaining ARC. I didn't know what it was. I still wonder though, what what it mean when contests on blogs give away an ARC?

  6. Michelle,
    Well...I have no idea what it means when contests on blogs give away an arc? ;) You're so clever.

  7. Yeah, I love splashing around in here. We don't have these in Cyprus because of drought conditions.

    BIG SPLASH!! Whoopeeeeee...Oh, do I have to get out? OK> off I go...

  8. Glynis,
    You're having so much fun. I'm glad you're on this journey. You make me chuckle.



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