I did not go to a writer’s conference expecting to have a breakthrough on my novel. So imagine my delight when the clouds parted, the sun came out, and a brilliant ray of light shot through the sky while I was sitting there listening to a presentation on crafting story arcs.
I was already familiar with the idea of story arcs and character arcs, but the session gave me a great opportunity me to reexamine my own (admittedly sketchily envisioned) novel and through that lens.
The presenter encouraged us to consider our story within the classic three-act structure: Beginning (inciting incident / establishment of conflict / commitment to action), Middle (intensification / development / moment of doubt / recommitment), End (climax / resolution). Then she instructed us to identify two or three main characters and plot out their personal arcs, establishing how they change over the course of the novel.
My eureka moment came in trying to articulate how my main character evolves. While the mechanics of her journey were clear in my head, I’d never really made myself spell out how the steps she took through the plot of the novel were connected to her personal journey. And when I did, the whole thread of the novel suddenly fell into place.
In the end, that one moment of clarity highlights why I think the kind of focus that one can achieve while at a conference like this can be so valuable. No, I didn’t learn anything new about story arcs during the session, but I forced myself to reexamine my project through a new lens, and I discovered something crucial, completely reconceptualizing my novel in way that will make it so much more cohesive from this point on.
Anybody else ever have a ‘eureka moment’ during a workshop?