One day, after about six years, 800,000 words, 13 or 14 novellas, and forty-some short stories, story suddenly came alive for me. Just like that, bam! (I never said I was quick.)
And wow, I just fell in love with story. Deep in love. Probably as much in love as I fell in love with the piano and music.
Underneath every great story, great novella, and great novel, is an invisible framework. It's the hidden plot, but the real and most important plot.
The way I see it, every character has an emotional journey and an emotional arc. These character's journeys provide both aid, obstacle, and conflict for other characters' journeys.
And not just the characters have arcs, but each relationship has an arc and a journey of its own.
Overall, the book has its own arc, its own emotional journey for the reader, and perhaps the arc of the theme.
Somehow, amidst this mess of arcs, an author must line them all up so they interweave and finally, in the end, all peak at the climax.
The things that happen? The "surface" plot? It's only a tool. It's what we think is the story, but it's not the real story. The picture to the right? That just doesn't work for me.
To me, the interweaving of all these emotional arcs into a novel is just beautiful. It's like counterpoint, like a fugue. It's thick and rich and full of depth.
I felt for Anonymous who posted the other day, who said books have become, for him/her, "gears and springs." As much as I love, love, love reading, I'm finding it increasingly hard to fall in love with a book. I'm finding it increasingly hard to find that perfect book that sweeps me away, the one with plenty of layers to seduce me, the one that just amazes me with its beauty and complexity.
But all this is just how I see it.
How do you see it? Are you aware of the invisible plot and arcs? Do you find them more or less important than the story the readers think is the real story? Which do you "find" first, when you're creating your story?
Today I am grateful for Advil. Okay, sorta a passive-aggressive grateful, but it's the best I can do today.