I have recently been researching diagrams to represent the Narrative Arc. I had completed a personal memoir, River Girl, based partly on childhood memories, that was complex in structure. How was I to analyse and to improve if necessary on this work in terms of its overall structure? I had never mapped out plots and story lines beforehand, preferring to focus on creating believable characters and “zingy” writing in the first instance.
It seemed to me, in fact, that some genres e.g. detective stories and thrillers, were better suited to pre-planning methods, while other narratives depended on the writer “getting it down” first, and worrying about structural issues later on. I saw myself as belonging to the latter category, rather than to the former.
However, I also saw that at some stage in the writing process, any writer will need to consider the overall structure of a longer work. This might take place towards the end, or in the middle, rather than at the beginning of the task of writing a novel. So it became more and more important for me, as I came to the end of writing my works, to consider what makes a successful narrative in terms of overall structure. This led me to try to identify the elements and functions of the narrative arc.