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 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.