I have been thinking a lot about this in preparation for my second attempt at writing my first novel:
which is supposed to illustrate the story arc for a novel. Fantasy novelist David B. Coe has a lot to say on this subject here. When I write short stories, I generally don’t worry about the arc so much because it seems to come more natural. After all, you’re dealing with a much smaller and generally more specific scope so that the arc is easier to define. Not so with novels, at least for me. When I attempted NaNoWriMo last year (and succeeded in the sense that I wrote 60,000 words in the month of November), I found that I was writing chapters that were self-contained story arcs, but that I quickly lost the thread of the combined story arc. I am trying to correct that as I make my second novel attempt beginning this November. And so I’ve been thinking a lot about this illustration of story arc, which to me indicates rising tension throughout the story until things finally explode and then ultimately, a resolution of sorts is reached. But what is still difficult for me to conceive is how to build in subplots that keep that arc on its upward journey, keep the reader engaged, keep the story moving, without losing all the treads. Or the reader. Or both.
I think this is a good image to keep in mind, but I’m still trying to work through its ramifications. I’m eagerly awaiting some books on novel-writing that friends and novelists have recommended. But in the meantime, I’ve been thinking about this image a lot. It is like a road map of sorts as the story I want to tell continues to unfold in my head.