Does every story have to have an arc?

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  • #1241 Reply
    Paul Ceretto

    Thanks so much Bill. I am working on some large “numbers” right now. The short stories you have critiqued came into mind. This will help me a great deal.

    Paul Robert Ceretto

    #1240 Reply

    Hey Paul–
    Nothing about fiction is absolute in my mind. But by definition, a story is an arc–a beginning, middle, and end. Conflict, action, resolution. Confusion, learning and experience, enlightenment. And it’s helpful to think about scene purpose and the structure of an arc too. Thinking about arcs provides momentum to the writing, but it also focuses on the continuity, logic, and credibility in the story creation. Although it may seem a little excessive at first, thinking about emotional arcs for certain characters can also aid in solid character development. What are the emotions of the character in scenes, and are the emotions logical and suitable for the timeline of the story. Will the reader sense logical change in emotions–type and intensity as the story grows? All this requires thinking a lot about who the character is and how they see themselves, and how the valence of their feelings progresses in scene and story. You’ve got three major characters. You could actually apply action and emotional arcs to each one, I would think, withing the framework of the overall story progression. The value of working it out ahead of time and the arc thinking becomes developed is you can think about the arcs interacting and not interacting at certain times in the story progression. Synergy and conflict can develop to great advantage. And it will keep you focused on the major story movement that should be overriding all the sub character interactions.
    Not many teachers would agree with this. Too structured. Stifles the creativity of writing from the heart. But I encourage you to think about story arc, and consider secondary arcs as ways to strengthen characterization and to keep focus on story progression and meaning as you write. It’s not easy, but the rewards may be very satisfying.
    All the best,

    #1238 Reply
    Paul Ceretto

    Does every story have to have the arc?
    My book is is about the life of an author, his wife, step daughter. All of their lives and deaths.

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