Story Arc – Improve Your Story Writing
We’re going to talk about the story arc from the writers’ and editors’ perspectives,and how to use the story arc to maximize the powerfulness of a story.
The story arc it’s often referred to as the narrative arc. It’s basically the flow of the story from a high-level structural perspective. And what the story arc is showing us, is how to form a story in a way that resonates with readers. And historically, over time, this has not changed.
An example would be Beowulf, the first anglo saxon story written. It’s an epic poem. However, it was written around 750 BC. When we analyze it, it follows the story arc, so its inciting incident, its plot point one, the middle point, and the climax. So that’s the beginning of how stories start there. And as we go through history, the big commercially successful books, the books that have stayed around forever, like Jane Austen’s books, they all follow the story arc. Cam Roiland has an archive on her site, where she analyzes a ton of books, hundreds of them against the story arc, and they all follow the same pattern.
We need to follow the same rhythm. And the rhythm is very important to hearing the music of a story. It’s the artistry. And a story is uniquely written by its artist. If you look at Romeo and Juliet, it has been rewritten prior to Shakespeare writing it way back in the Greek myths. It was already written except it was with a lion and a scarf instead of poison on the wood. Everybody has their own story and their own song thing, and they just need to get the rhythm, right? Because if it doesn’t flow right, people can’t follow along.
When a professional editor gets a story, they’re going to go ahead and edit it. They are going to look at the story arc, and when they do that, they want to turn in the key scenes, and that’s really important to be able to develop those. The editor will evaluate and separate each of those, and then they’ll come back to the writer and show them these key scenes. Those are the basics and the foundation, the ground of the story arc. Once the writer and the editor come to an agreement on how to make it more powerful based on those key scenes, they’re going to compare it to the story arc. And from that point, when doing revisions, after the story edit, one should know where your focus is.
When working with a story editor, it’s really fun to see somebody else’s insight on the book, in a structured perspective, that they’ve worked really hard to figure out what is working and what isn’t. And there’s lots of value there.