Why do they call it an 'arc' anyways?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Over on one of my Yahoo writer loops, someone asked this:

Question: I understand that characters have to grow during the course of the story, often resulting in an epiphany at the end, but why is the shape of this growth an arc rather than a gradual climb to a new understanding of themselves? What does the downward part of the arc represent?


::blinkblink::

Anyone want to take a stab at this?


(The following is all blather, feel free to by pass it)

In other news, I'm sort of stuck on a scene. It's only 2 pages long, but I think it's done all that's it's supposed to. I only had one goal in mind when I planned it, but I guess I was expecting several other things to come into play. They haven't really. Debra Dixon says each scene should accomplish at least 3 things, one of which should be either goal, motivation or conflict. So this scene (thinking out loud here folks, sorry) was mainly to have the H/h meet while she's regained consciousness. To show her attraction to him, to show his intent to keep an eye/protect her. To show her being intrigue about who he is? Maybe a certain amount of distrust on her part? Maybe a bit of consternation on his part, because she doesn't seem to be in danger, the way he earlier suspected, so why is he still hanging around? Maybe he realizes he wants her in a way that is dangerous to her, thereby his intent and his want (keep her out of danger/put her in danger) are in conflict. This all feels a bit internal, though. The first chapter was mostly external action, so I want to bring some sort of 'push' plotwise in here. Also, the first chapter was all in his POV and he's a bit of smart ass. This chapter has been in her pov, and she's far more serious/dry humoured. The fact that she's had a near death experience would dry up anyone's sense of humour I guess, and since there's an element of horror in this story, it's good to have her more serious voice, since the horrific exists in his world and he's more excepting of it.

'K, it was good to write that all out. I'll tweak the scene a bit more, then move on.
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15 comments:

Jaye said...

Big freakin lightbulb just went off. She has no goal (pressing goal that moves the story forward) in this scene. He does. He had a purpose in visiting her. I'm in the wrong pov! Well, I'll keep the first part that shows her awareness/attraction to him, but I need to scrap the pages I've written beyond that, where it feels like the dialogue feels like 'blah blah blah', and get into his head. That's where all the interesting stuff is happening. *sigh* Why does this writing gig never get easier?

So nobody figure out what that downward slope of the character arc symbolizes? Got me stumped.

Amie Stuart said...

Maybe the downward arc is the wrapping up of threads?

I love Deb Dixon's class but I really believe you have to take what works from it and toss what doesn't--just like any other writing advice, including this. =)

Jorrie Spencer said...

As for the arc, I kinda agree with Cece. I guess I visualize it as, things aren't so complicated, things complicate and there is much to sort out, things get decomplicated.

Glad the lightbulb went off! I haven't been able to work with Dixon's stuff, at least as of yet, but I know others find it invaluable.

Steph T. said...

All that thinking about the scene just scarred me for life. Hope you're happy...I know Larissa put you up to that...

Amie Stuart said...

It's okay steph! Just go write something out of order--you'll be fine!

Jaye said...

Something with a Spackler.... ;-)

I'm kinda bored with my scene (except the part where my H admitted something 'jerky') Think I'll throw a dead body in here. Considering it's a paranormal, it's too be expected. heh.

Jaye said...

'K, what you're saying about the wind down makes sense. If you apply this to the Hero's Journey, it's more or less the return to the ordinary world, right? The turbulance (emotional highs) have now calmed back down, although the protagonist is not who they were at the begining.

Jaye said...

Argghhh!!! I've had to cut that damn feckin scene. Not only was it *not much happening* but I couldn't even figure out how to throw in the dead body in a way that made sense. I'm sure I can incorporate bits and peices into the new stuff, but I can't believe I wrote 8 pages today and none of it works! *sob*

I'm going to outline what I think should be the next scene, including notes on purposes & GMC.

sux.

Jaye said...

Back from cleaning the toilet y'all. lol. Nothing like a chemical high to get the ole creative juices flowing. So...

The scene stays. I was right in the first place, the scene pretty much accomplished what it needed to do. I flesh it out a bit, changed it to the H's pov, but it's needed, so it stays.

I think I was bore because I was pushing it past that point, either writing towards something 'bigger' happening, or trying to find a way to bring the scene to a close. Now I've found a way to wrap it up, while laying the foundation for a purpose further along in the story. ::preening::

My secret ::ssshhh:: goal was to finish this chapter this long weekend. I just might do it. 7 more pages would bring to the same page count as chapter 1. ::fingers crossed::

raine said...

So Jaye, you got high in the bathroom, decided to throw in a dead body in bits and pieces, flesh that out, then spackle a foundation over it...

Sounds good to me. :-O

Jaye said...

Smartass. ;-)

I've got at least 8 pages to write today and the chapter will be done! And I allready did a sketchy outline of it ::la-de-dah-de-dah-de-la-la-la::

Diana Peterfreund said...

Some people's minds are far too literal.

It's not "arc" like the St. Louis arch.

It's "arc" like "trajectory."

Amie Stuart said...

DOes your son know you're getting high in the bathroom?

Jaye said...

A risk him getting into my stash when I'm at work? ::pauses to think about ds actually cleaning the toilet:: ahahhahahahahahahahahaaaaa.

::snort::

So, since this is my official whine about the wip post, I'll continue from wher I left off.

*sigh* I cut the scene AGAIN. I brought it to a close, then read the whole thing over, including the preceeding scene.

I was still bored. The chapter was 3/4 finished and I was bored. The plot hadn't moved forward in any meaningful way. Plus the sexual tension didn't have that ZAP! I wanted.

Flip side, I started the scene that was going to be next, anyways. I like it better already. 100% improvement re characterization/motives/backstory. Great set up for how the H/h meet now that she's concious. (heh) I think the sexual tension/attraction will POP! this time round. And I can get them to start 'seeing' each other in a much more natural way.

Don't worry guys, as soon as this post falls off. I'll do my whining in private. :-P

Michelle said...

Good luck fixing everything to where it needs to be! Cleaning toilets must be a new technique for brainstorming. Must try that! :)

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