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What is story arc to you?
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I wrote the french translation of story arc for a very specific reason. Although it may not be apparent upon first look, once I explain it will be an aha moment! One of the worst facets of writing is how mysterious and mystical it can all seem, instead of being the artistic practice it actually is. There’s not really anything magical or mysterious about it.
A story arc is the trajectory of a story from the beginning to the end (including each installment). It is the larger narrative being told. That’s why I used the French translation (plus it sounds cooler). Narrative arc is a clearer title for the process of episodic writing (that includes prequels, sequels, episodes, series, comic series, television, movies, and games). This is the glue that binds each piece together. Each piece has its own plot.
If you think of this in terms of a television series, it’s quite clear! Each episode has a specific plot that is introduced and usually resolved by the end of the episode. What will bring it to the next episode is the bridging details, whether that is characters, location, or an unresolved plot point. You could have a story about a cafe, and the only returning characters are a waitress that speaks once in a while, and the cook, who you rarely hear from, while the story of the episode focuses on customers. The tie together is the cafe, waitress, and cook–and eventually you’d start to see how all the other stories are affecting them, or they are affecting the stories being told. That nugget of information is the story arc.
Let’s look at Star Trek. The story arc is the tale of humans and a few aliens exploring space in the future, and all the things they run into along the way. The plots belong to each of the episodes, whether it is a flashback to Nazi Earth, or Spock’s betrothal. Each plot makes up a chunk of the larger story arc, upholding it.
In my work, I have written a trilogy that has the story arc of Captain Maiel. The individual books explore her marriage, her service, and her incarnation, while reconciling all three. Something is out of balance, and that has to be rectified–the catalyst. OP-DEC will see a sequel. The story arc in regards to this is Who is Carsten Reiniger? Will you find out? You’ll have to read it. On a side note, I’m considering a third installment.
Let’s hop on over to see what the other authors have to say on this topic. But, before you go, if you’re trying to remember this writing device think of television series.