If you are a writer, you most likely have already hear of “The Story Arc” or “The Dramatic Arc.” However, it is always good to remember these five crucial elements to any story: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Step One: Exposition
Every story begins with exposition of some sort. Think of it as your background, or the introduction to your story. Who are your major players in this game? What is their world like and how is everything about to change? Consider “The Hunger Games,” in the exposition we learn about Panem and the districts. We learn about the reaping and the relationship between Katniss and Prim, but nothing of huge significance has happened yet.
Step Two: Rising Action
The Rising Action can begin immediately, it can coexist with the exposition, or it can wait until a few chapters in to occur. These are the events that occur that really get the story going. While we were already introduced to Katniss and her family, the Rising Action truly begins once Prim’s name is called at the reaping. After this moment, Katniss is thrown head first into the crazy, fashion-obsessed Capitol and then forced to survive the Games.
The Rising Action can continue on for quite a long time and makes up a large chunk of any story. All of these events snowball onto one another and lead to the climax. For example:
Katniss does well in the events before the Games, gaining the title “Girl on Fire”
Next, her popularity leads to sponsorship that aids her in the Games
Because of the sponsorship, Katniss survives long enough to find Peeta
Because she finds Peeta, Katniss and Peeta can gain even more sponsors through pretending to be star-crossed lovers which enacts the rule that more than one tribute can survive
Peeta and Katniss are able to survive together which leaves them as the last pair to face off with Cato.
Every step, every action that happens within the rising action leads to the climax of the story.
Step Three: Climax
Next, we have our Climax. The Climax is the culmination of everything that you have been leading up to in your writing. It is the big event, usually toward the end of your story (however, it is NOT the end). Using “The Hunger Games,” the climax can be seen at the end of the Games when Peeta and Katniss must battle with the brutal, bloody Cato.
Step Four: Falling Action
However, the climax, as I briefly mentioned, is not the end! Indeed, in the moments after Cato’s death, we have our Falling Action (these are events that often come after and CAUSED BY the climax). In this case, the Falling Action consists of the Gamemakers attempting to force Katniss and Peeta into killing one another. However, when they refuse, Seneca Crane is forced to allow them to live, which leads to our resolution.
Step Five: Resolution
The Resolution does not have to be happy, it does not have to answer every question and it can leave readers on a cliffhanger. For instance, although Katniss and Peeta are allowed to live and the Games have concluded, Katniss is aware of the danger that still surrounds her. When they head home, Katniss and Peeta’s relationship is hanging on tethers. She survived the Games, but Katniss is still not safe.
So there you have it, the five essential elements of a story! When you write, do you make sure that these elements exist or do they come naturally?
Happy Writing Everyone!
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2 thoughts on “Writing Tip: The Dramatic Arc”
I know it’s considered a form of SPAM to put one’s own blog post links on that of another author, but I couldn’t help myself in this case, because I wrote on a similar topic when I was constructing the narrative arc for my own memoir: https://marianbeaman.com/2017/10/11/memoir-writing-myth-mystery-search-narrative-arc/
The Hunger Games is the perfect choice to illustrate narrative arc because each point is so clear-cut. Great topic:, Kayla Ann! 🙂
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Woohoo! Looks like I remembered that correctly. Thanks for the refresher!
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