“One simple rule of writing, Don’t Lie To Yourself”. They say nobody’s perfect and if that’s true well, just like other arts, Writers too would have to keep learning.
Welcome to The Quill: Learning the ropes.
I’m Ugochukwu and I’ll be your Host on The Art of Writing.
If you missed the first part, you just might want to check it out: The Quill Episode 1
I know it’s been a while, been Terribly busy with trying to be a better writer and I must say it’s not a day’s Job-Actually its been like a month trying to put up this short story- so no one should be mad at J.K Rowling if she isn’t putting up another Harry Potter series. :P
Anyway, let’s not derail here. Today, we’re going to see The Arc/k. Nope, we’re not talking Noah here except, of course, just like Biblical times, this aspect of writing is a HUGE factor in determining if or not your reader would hit that ‘Buy Now’ button the next time you get a story on Amazon.
I’d ask just one simple question and we’d draw pretty much the whole lesson from it. Here: “Describe your life in one word”. In one word, you’d say; Successful or Terrible or Beautiful or Ruined or Wasted or Worth it or Crazy or Epic or whatever your life has been in one word. Now, we both know that word doesn’t actually give all what you mean in the exact sense of it. You weren’t born ‘Successful or Terrible or Beautiful or Ruined or Wasted or Worth it or Crazy or Epic or whatever your life has been’, you actually worked your way there and it wasn’t just one straight road, you sure had turns and twirls and ups and downs and valleys and hills and at some point in your life you’ve met Angels and Demons. All those times are what we call stages of life but when it comes to Writing, those stages are called ARCS.
Like I’d always tell anyone, “Your characters are alive, you just don’t know them” and just like every human being, they also want to get something out of life. Since you’re the Chief here, telling a story about a character, you should be outright to yourself: What is this story about? What is his/her life like? Once you’re able to figure this, you should know how long it takes this character to achieve such goals. A time frame is essential for Arcs to occur and remember, these time frames must be near real life in that they shouldn’t be exuberant.
Once you’re done with Building your character template and deciding your story headline, the journey through the Ark begins.
For Characters, it’s more like the summary of the whole story. “Tobey leaves Kansas city for Nigeria in search for a better meaning to life, he realizes Life isn’t all a bed of roses in this part of the Atlantic Ocean and so at some point, he got caught up in all of Lagos’ heavy duties and struggles and he looses focus in trying to survive. Life smiles on him when Vanessa comes his way and finding true love helps him realize his erring way which together they fix and then everything finally makes sense again to him.”
That’s the whole story but look again…do you see the Arcs there?
See: 1.Tobey leaves Kansas city for Nigeria in 2.search for a better meaning to life, 3.he realizes Life isn’t all a bed of roses in this part of the Atlantic Ocean and so at some point, he got caught up in all of Lagos’ heavy duties and struggles and 4.he looses focus in trying to survive. Life smiles on him when Vanessa comes his way and 5.finding true love helps him 6.realize his erring way which together they fix and then 7.everything finally makes sense again to him.
There are 7 arcs to this guy’s story, it’s the same with our lives. Dangote didn’t become successful in one day, they’re stages [Arcs] he went through before getting there. Now this should be the same with your Character and story, some people just Merge up the whole story into a single chapter and expect reader’s to show up at their next post? NO!!! We won’t because we read the whole story in your first Chapter.
Talking about Chapters,They’re just a reflow of Arcs and needless to say, Chapters have arcs too. Chapters tend to weave Arcs into a reflowable story; by reflowable I mean a continuation of a Character’s life from the previous arc/chapter. Notable features of a chapter include Scenes and dialogues. We’d save Dialogue for another day but as for scenes, they got arcs too. A scene is just like a chip off the whole chapter.
Here’s an example of a scene from a story that doesn’t exist [Yet]
“Where are you off to?” Vanessa asked, rolling to the other side of the bed, her head propped up with her palms.
“To work of course, I didn’t expect you to be asking such question” Tobey replied, catching a view of his 2 months old lover from the mirror as he twisted his tie into a perfect knot, a smile spread thinly across his lips. “Trent Wheeler would be visiting today so I’m hoping to start all the briefing with him as soon as he lands.” Vanessa turned away from him, her heartbeat having dropped by several paces.
“You know its Sunday right?” she mumbled from the other side of the bed.
“So?” he answered, his mood definitely had changed and it was almost visible in his tone but then, she had known him too long for her not to noyice when he was starting to rage.
“I didn’t mean to ruin your mood” she started, getting off the bed and walking towards her lover “I just want you to know that You aren’t the one pulling in all the big contracts, if God doesn’t want it then you won’t get it.” She finished her statement with a kiss on his cheeks as she walked out of the room. How she does it, he couldn’t decipher but it was undeniable that she had a way with words enough to melt a stone.
Minutes later, he arrived at the kitchen where Vanessa was making breakfast. “Is it too late to change my mind about Church??” he asked with broad smile on his face.
“Of course not, Brother Tobey” she replied, his contagious smile also got a better of her as he drew closer.
From that scene, you can tell that this definitely isn’t an Arc from Chapter 1. It most likely fits into Arc 6: “realize his erring way which together they fix” and just like every Arc should be, the scene doesn’t ends the way it started, that’s what pretty much makes it an Arc.
P.S- If you really did your homework with Knowing Your Character, you might want to comment what kind of Persona Vanessa has.
All a chapter does is string all these arcs from the scenes into a complete Chapter Arc so your whole story depend wholly on if these scenes are appealing to the reader.
BUILDING AN ARC:
Do you know what saved Noah from the great flood? He obeyed God’s specifications in building that Ark. Lol, funny illustration. I’m not God……but then,
A simple way to writing a beautiful story is building great Scene Arcs. Its pretty easy but if you feel its absurd then just pick a pen and paper or get on your MS Word or grab a chalk and Slate or whatever you use in writing and scribble out these:
1. Character Template
2. What your story plot is [try finding the Arcs in the summary]
3. Write out Arcs for every Chapter until you feel the story has finished[Happens when you reach the end of your set time frame]
I’ve done too much Amebo already so I’d be gone now. Hopefully, I wont stay away for too long. Till then, Have Fun.
Hit me Up for Whatever!!!! I just might have a solution or something :P ;)