The Story Arc is the essential or main plot, the external conflict that becomes the focus of the hero or heroine through which all the conflict is played.
The external conflict involves the protagonist’s main goal and the obstacles that must be overcome. A novel begins by establishing the protagonist’s ordinary world, and then moves the action ahead with the Inciting Incident, the escalating conflict and turning points, the black moment, and concludes with the climax, and resolution.
In my previous blog post about conflict (last week), I wrote that conflict unifies and drives the story. Without conflict, without a unifying plot of some sort, there is no novel. By definition, a novel must have a plot.
The story arc is set up in Act One, by introducing all the story elements–characters, plot, setting, tone, Inciting Incident, POV. The setup orients the readers and focuses the story line. The Inciting Incident should happen within the first 3 chapters.
But the setup of the story is not completed when the inciting incident happens. Here I’ll pose my question to readers of this blog: What element that starts with the letter C must be introduced to complete the setup? (I’ll answer the question in a future blog if the Comments don’t provide the answer.)
More about Story Arc: The story arc and suspense are powered by the turning points, obstacles, barriers, reversals and complications. The suspense, as a function of that external conflict or story arc, should be strong enough to carry the reader through to the end of the book. If the story arc ends too soon, the novel, action and characters would then have no direction, no purpose.–the conflict ends, the suspense ends and you’ve lost the readers.
I’ll be presenting a workshop on the Novel Arcs: Piloting Your Craft, at the Write on the Sound conference, which is October 6th & 7th, with pre-conference workshops on Friday.
Have a wonderful week!! And a happy and hot August!