“It’s a delicious thing to write. To be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating.”
How true this is! Writing fiction is delicious. It can also be seductive — so much so that it is easy to get lost within the world you’ve created. So much so, that sometimes you can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees. I know firsthand, because this happened to me recently during a round of changes I made to the first part of my YA novel.
Luckily for me, I had help at hand: My fabulous sister Stephanie is a crackerjack editor who knows how to find the forest: that’s her specialty. When she caught me wandering among the trees, she advised me to stop focusing on wordsmithing and to step back and look at the overarching structure of the beginning of my story.
Stephanie really grabbed my attention when she reminded me that there were two arcs I was dealing with: the emotional arc of my main character and the arc of the story as a whole. This way of looking at the architecture of the opening of my story is proving extremely helpful.
It drove home to me that the conflict that propels a story forward is generated by friction between a main character’s emotional trajectory and the situations he or she finds herself in as the plot unfolds.
This led me to see that sometimes these two arcs unfold in parallel, sometimes they meet at crucial plot points, and sometimes they clash with each other and create conflict. Stepping back and looking at how a main character develops emotionally in relation to the overall arc of a story can be a valuable touchstone for revising. Thanks, Steph! Write on.