Tips to build a story arc

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably experienced that defining moment during the writing process, where you sit and stare at the white document and no progress ever happens. Sometimes the narrative just seems to be stuck, and no matter how hard you spin your brain, the story arc goes nowhere, landing flat on its back. 

It’s not just you. Writing a smooth and consistent arc is a task for even well- established writers, which is why we present to you some of the best tips that can come in handy when plotting story arcs. 

  • Follow the three-act structure – Setup, Confrontation and Resolution

Outline is the key to a good story. You don’t have to dive in too deep, but before you start, ensure that you’re clear on how your story will progress, the biggest hurdle in your protagonist’s way and how your protagonist will overcome this. For example, take the Harry Potter Series. It is vast with multiple storylines but each storyline has a clear beginning, a conflict and a resolution, all of this comes together to create an ‘arc.’ 

  • Remember the 5 W’s – Who, What, Where, When and Why

Try answering the 5 W’s before you start on your project. 

  1. Who are the main characters in your story? What do they desire?
  2. What is the key issue here? What hinders them?
  3. Where is the story set? What is your world like?
  4. When is the story set? Do we have mobile phones yet?
  5. Why does your story even exist in the first place? What drives your character to their goal so badly that the story continues to progress?

Breaking down your entire structure into smaller interrogative bits like these can help you get a clear understanding of your characters and the themes that you wish to talk about.

  • Create tension in the middle section to sustain interest 

Your protagonist’s journey shouldn’t be a cake walk. Raise the stakes and make them face their worst possible fears. Readers are interested in finding out the limits of their characters. They are intrigued by questions like ‘how much more can the characters endure until they give up,’ which is why they continue reading. Don’t be scared to test your characters, instead challenge them as much as possible. 

  • Tension + Emotional ups and downs = Engaging story arc

We might not all admit it, but everyone loves a tear jerker. A good and compelling book knows how to play with their readers emotions. Melodrama isn’t particularly about just the crying bit. There’s a whole lot of tension involved, the stakes are higher than ever before, which is what leads to the emotional roller coaster and grips the reader. 

Now that the ins and outs of building story arcs is at your fingertips, go write that story. There’s no better time than now.

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