The Dramatic Ark!

So, Noah had to save two of every animal from being destroyed in the Great Flood…

A what now?  Oh, the dramatic arc!  *blush*

Back in Greek times, the rather straightforward three-point notion of narrative was to have a start, a middle and a finish.  Around three hundred years later, the Romans and their contemporaries looked to increase these steps to five.  The points in the process have fluctuated between as little as four to as many as the author can juggle sufficiently (or not, depending on their skill).

The most accepted five point process continues like so:

1)  Exposition

We must be introduced to the characters and/or the ideas seeking to hold our interest.  For example, we may have a person dissatisfied with the way things are done in their hometown.

2)  Rising Action

Some events that relate to character or the idea start to build towards an important event.  We may see what our ‘exposition’ character deems unsatisfactory, be it an event or interaction with another character that is the source of their discontent.

3)  Climax

The term would seem to signify the end of what we are working towards, but it seems to hold as more of a turning point.  We reach the peak of the narrative mountain, where we see either character perform an important action.  Maybe the antagonist does something to drive home why the ‘exposition’ character is unsettled.

4)  Falling Action

The portion of the process where the two characters face off regarding their issue, likely with some suspense in regards to who is going to be victorious.

5)  Resolution

The resolution can be either good or bad.  The dissatisfied character may win and make things more to their satisfaction, or they may lose and be forced to do something they do not wish to.  Loser leaves town, loses respect in their community, loses faith in themselves.


Throughout an epic series, this process can continuously turn.  The resolution can lead into another exposition, such as the character not accepting the resolution in place and look for alternative means to get what they want.  And so the wheel turns, as it did in the past, and as it will in the future…


One response

  1. Thanks for this reminder of the basics, DJ. Maybe if I “stick to the plan” a little more, I’ll be able to jolt a little more action from the novel I’m currently stuck on.

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