The Irish Firebrands Story Arc.

When I started writing Irish Firebrands, I’d never taken a creative writing course.* I detest outlining, and didn’t plan any of my academic or non-fiction writing, so I completely “pantsed” the novel, too, and finished it three years later, with nearly 200,000 words. When I saw this great story arc illustration, it looked familiar, so I compared my novel to the graph, and sure enough: it’s exactly the pattern that Irish Firebrands follows. Here’s what it looks like, added to the illustration:

The Irish Firebrands Story Arc

(click to enlarge, or follow text link to download original graph)

The existence of a chronological story arc does not mean the story was written that way. I started writing at a point in the book that became the end of Chapter 23 and the beginning of Chapter 24. Then, I wrote the second half of the first chapter (at the Establish Routine arrow) and the Inciting Incident. I wrote the end of Chapter 30, the beginning of Chapter 9, and the very last scene of the book, before I wrote the beginning of Chapter 1.

A lifetime of reading went under my hatband before I began writing Irish Firebrands. My reading and writing tastes run to literary fiction, often of epic length, which can support this kind of shark’s-tooth pattern. The simpler, bell-curve shape below, may be more appropriate for the short stories, genre novelettes and NaNoWriMo novellas that make up the majority of the independently published work that’s currently on the market.


If you’re a “pantser” author, and have graphed your book, I’d like to see your story arc pattern. Please post a link in the comments section, to show how it looks.

* I still haven’t taken one. Life is too short, now, for that. The Daughters of Zeus have plenty of plans to keep me busy, until “They” have to pry the keyboard out of my hands.



Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

5 responses to “The Irish Firebrands Story Arc.

  1. Thank you for linking to my post – it’s interesting to see how your story matches up with the Arc! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apparently, I unconsciously absorbed the arc, sometime during 50 years of reading. There are two POV characters, so Chapter 1 is divided between establishing both of their Routines, and the Inciting Incident that brings them together at the end of the chapter. Also, there are two strong secondary characters, which is why the Denouement is longer than suggested. But this is Art – and like Tolkien, I don’t write novelettes! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for linking my guest post, Christine. As we speak, my son is suffering from jet lag from his most recent trip to Eire. I’ll be following you in your literary endeavors!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I realized early in the writing of Irish Firebrands that a solo backpack trip to Ireland would be essential to getting all of the story “right.” I was there only two weeks, so I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to do, but I hope I absorbed enough of real life in modern Ireland to help my readers have a “you are there” experience, which was the ultimate goal of the three years of research that went into the novel.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for visiting my site and liking a recent post. I need to spend some time here because I can see you have a lot of good stuff to share.

    Liked by 1 person

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