Simply put, a story arc is the transformation of a character from one state to another. It’s the growth process of the hero, the empowerment of an underdog, or the digression of an antagonist. A single book has a small growth journey for the main character, but the best place to witness a story arc is in a long-running television series. To keep the viewers interested, these characters will transform over time.
Watch any soap opera and you will see a great example of a story arc. You most likely won’t see a great storyline, but the arc is definitely there. I apologize to all of you daytime television lovers out there, but on the grand scheme of things, no book series would last twenty years by constantly adding more drama between such plastic and unrealistic characters.
How many of your favorite characters started out as a bad guy, but throughout the series of events, he slowly transforms into a likable person? This is a good example of a story arc.
All writers need to keep this basic arc in mind when writing fiction stories, or even nonfiction in some cases. If you are writing your life story, then this will be your journey to awareness. Ask yourself the following questions whether you are writing your life story or you’re writing fiction.
- What are the hero’s characteristics, circumstances, and values to begin with?
- What happens to the hero during this story and how does it change and mold the character?
- At the end of your book, how has the hero changed?
When writing a series of books the story arc becomes more prevalent. You don’t want one character to grow tremendously in book one and then start over in book two. Start the growth journey from the character’s current position.
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