1. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    How many archs it takes?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Alan Aspie, Sep 5, 2018.

    1. There is a story line, the arch of happenings.

    2. There is a character arch.

    3. Hero goes from this mundane and normal world to the special world where strange/dangerous/funny/whatever things happen. And in the end he maybe comes back to mundane world of normal people of rides to the special world of lonely (?) heroes.

    Could we call this story world arch?

    4. Sometimes there is a "character arc of society" Or is it part of third arch? Or are character archs of individuals part of this collective arch? Or is it a double arch? Protagroup vs. antagroup?

    How many archs it takes to sail through a sea of stories?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Arc. Arcs.

    In terms of how many... I don't know. How many do you want?
     
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  3. writingistelepathy

    writingistelepathy Member

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    I think it depends on the complexity of the story and you can really outline as many arcs as you like.

    On a side note this post has really helped me visualise arcs and at which point each point on each arc connect - so thank you! I will be drawing arcs and seeing where they end up and if this helps me plan my narrative structure.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Is there a difference between arc and plotline? I'm not sure about that. I think I've always used the term 'plotline' but maybe there is a difference I should pay attention to.
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I see an arc as being a summarized description of the effect that various plot events had on...something--a world, a character, whatever.

    So you could say that in Star Trek, Spock's arc included an increasing acceptance of his human side and of the value of emotions.

    I remember someone saying that The Sopranos was about a man in darkness reaching for the light. I might call that an arc, especially if he actually reached the light.

    The same article said that Breaking Bad was about a man born in the light descending to the darkness. I'd call that an arc.

    Mulder's arc was arguably about resolving his reaction to what happened to his sister.

    The plotline would be the more specific events.

    I may be totally wrong, though.
     
  6. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    That's how I've always thought of the two as well. The plotline for me is: What's the overall plot? What events happen? Whereas a character arc is: How do they get from point A to point B and do they come out of it changed at all? For me, character/plot arcs are interchangeable as they tend to affect one another.
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    No, I think that makes sense. There must be a nuance of difference between plotline and arc, otherwise there wouldn't be two terms, would there? Maybe arc is more connected to theme than plot? Hmm. I'll start thinking more about this.

    I used to think of 'arc' in terms of TV series, etc—oddly, not books. In other words, a word to describe the overall change in a character or plot from the start of a series to the end of it, which was planned by the creator at the start of the series, and didn't just 'evolve.' But I might be trying to simplify something that is more difficult to pin down.
     
  8. Amontillado

    Amontillado Active Member

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    Plotline, arc - does it matter? Elements of your story undergo change. They age well or badly, they come to a good or a bad end, whatever happens, those things are the dynamics of the story. The things that change.

    i don't think it matters what you call them, although the term 'arc' could be confining. There is no reason for anything in a story to form a nice little rainbow, or a structure the city of St. Louis would be proud of. Discontinuities are tools, too.
     
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  9. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    Maybe a bit like this:

    Plotline/storyline = What happens effects to what happens next.

    An arch = What happens effects to development of something else than happenings.

    Shit happens. It effects to what happen next. Storyline/plotline.
    Shit happens. It effects to development of character. Character arch.
    Shit happens. It moves hero from mundane world to strange special world. Story world arch.

    Maybe plot is everything that happens and effects and storyline arch is that part of the plot that has developmental continuity? Those parts that are not crucial to some development can be part of plot but not part of that arch?

    Arch? Crucial things one after the other and nothing more.

    Storyline? Arch of the plot?

    Plot? Few archs + some more?


    Plot = what happens and what happens after that.
    Arch = What are the developmental consequences of chain of happenings?

    I want to learn from those that are wiser and more experienced than me. If I don't understand basic terms with similar way, it makes learning more difficult.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  10. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    "Arc" is more about how something changes. "Plot" is just a sequence of events. If you think about Indiana Jones, he has lots of plot, as you may know, he goes from one adventure to the next, lots of events happen to him. That's not a "character arc" because he doesn't change at all, he's brave and clever when he started and he's brave and clever when the story ended. But you can have "story arc" because there is change, an arc which starts with Indiana Jones wanting to get an artefact, goes through the middle of Indiana Jones fighting for the artefact and ends with Indiana Jones getting the artefact. As you can see, there is a change there (he goes from not having the artefact, to fighting for it, to having it).
     
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  11. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    In the beginning he is brave and clever and he cares only about things that are dry & dusty & old.

    In the end he is mostly brave and clever. But he cares also about something that is moist & female & not very old. And in things that are connected to that female, he is not as brave and clever.

    So... He developes from brave singleminded know-it-all to more human. More flawed is less flowed here.

    (And if I don't remember it right, then I claim that I am Social Justice Warrier. Then reality is wrong and my ego is right and disagreeing with me is natsism-fascism-racism-chauvinism-bigotry witch means I'm right even if proven wrong.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  12. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    A good way to look at it is that everything has arc or everything is part of an arc. It's actually a very useful idea.
     
  13. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    I agree.

    And important things use to connect two arches.
     
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  14. writingistelepathy

    writingistelepathy Member

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    At which points do you connect two arches? Towards the last third?
     
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  15. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    At which point the route of my left foot is connected to the route of my right foot?

    Arches are like your feet: separated but on the same path, different rhythm, but same pace...

    They are all the time separated and all the time together.

    Body binds them. Your body if it is your feet. The body of the story if it is your arches.

    And you take care that things that bind are important ones, not just something. Make those things matter.
     
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  16. writingistelepathy

    writingistelepathy Member

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    I honestly think, if you don’t teach philosophy or meditation then you should.

    Thanks for the insight! I am trying to improve my understanding of character development process.
     
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  17. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    Simple.

    If you start with the plot idea you have to glue your characters on top of your storyline. So you must force characters to fit your story. Usually it shows.

    You can get good plot heavy story with more or less cardboard characters.

    If you start with the characters, you weave your storyline the way that would be natural to these characters.

    You can get psychologically believable story but you need more innovative attitude to both plot and characters. So... This is more difficult and you must work harder.

    But... Here is the nice surprise: You don't need to do eweerything alone! You have a virtual group that works with you for you.

    If you build your characters and they motivational base well enough they are there as your virtual co-workers. They "tell" you what they would do in some situation. They (partly) write themselves!

    But... If you start from character building, don't pay too much attention to they back story. Put your focus on two things:
    1. What did hurt or damage them? How that affects to they motivational base?
    2. What did help them? How that affects to they motivational base?

    These are the two most important things that affects to them and through them now and in the future. So put your focus on them.

    Make yourself a character paper about all main characters. And deal with these two things in that paper. Some backstory and other kind of characterization also but these two are the main thing.

    After you have done this, your characters become your co-writers.


    (My work in progress has 11 character papers. They make 73 pages. I must do at least one more. And because of that background work these characters sometimes write even when I am not writing. They are not loyal to my synopsis but to themselves.

    Almost all of these characters have some kind of arch. I would not be able to handle it without this background work and material. I need a weaving machine to weave all this to one fabric and my background work and material is that machine.)
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Do be aware that Alan is a new writer -- he presents his theories with a great deal of authority, but he hasn't really produced any work to back this up.

    I'm not saying he's wrong. Honestly, the way he presents his ideas is so different from my way of thinking that I'm not sure what he's saying a lot of the time, so I'm not really in any position to judge the accuracy of his ideas. I will definitely say that, from what I've seen of his process, it's VERY different from mine. And that's fine--there are loads of different ways to make things work. Just be aware that Alan's way hasn't worked for him, yet. He's only recently begun writing his first book, as I understand it.
     
  19. writingistelepathy

    writingistelepathy Member

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    How do you work with your characters?
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I have a much less organized approach - I generally daydream about them a bit before I start writing (making up scenes in my head, etc.) and then I just... write 'em. I don't do all the character sheets and written backstory or anything. I often find that I discover new facets as I write and I keep track of these as I go and then when I'm done the first draft I go back to the start and make sure the characters at the beginning are consistent with who they are at the end. That's about it, really.
     
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  21. writingistelepathy

    writingistelepathy Member

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    That’s very interesting! Do you work in a similar way for the other aspects of the story; or do you find less planning works better for you for all aspects?
     
  22. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    First something starts to demand my attention. Usually it has something to do with several real people.

    Then an imaginary character starts to form itself. I try not to disturb it.

    Later I write an character paper about it.

    I pay much attention to flaws and wounds and how this character deals with them. The theme rises from these.

    I pay much attention to the base of motivation.

    You could say that I do what most pros tell you to do.

    I don't want to use shortcuts. So I just do the background work.

    Tens of really hard core pros have written about writing and most of them tell the same. They use different ways of saying it, but the message is the same.

    I like doing it the way they all teach.
     
  23. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I try to do outlines for my plots, but it rarely works out... if you look at the ol' plot-driven vs character-driven spectrum, I'm very much on the character-driven side of things, so if I figure out something about my characters as I'm writing, I often change the plot to reflect the new element of characterization. Which tends to throw the outline out the window!
     
  24. Nariac

    Nariac Contributor Contributor

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    I remember I had a plot development I wanted to implement and suddenly my characters were all like "We're not going to let you write that because you wrote us in a different way and we're not changing just for your plot!"

    Was a bit surreal to say the least.
     
  25. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    Interesting, because often TV shows are done more or less on the fly, with no idea how many seasons they'll be allowed. Lost was infamous for lying about having an 8 season bible when the writers were pretty much ad-libbing each time, but My Name Is Earl was just getting into some character arcs (Earl being good for the sake of being good, not just to balance his karma for his own benefit) when the network canceled it.
     
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