Mapping an Emotional Arc

A hand writing with a feather penLast month I went to FogCon up in Walnut Creek and while I was there I participated in the Writer’s Workshop critique group. I submitted an old short story which I had had critiqued at Norwescon some time ago and rewritten. I wanted to see what a new group would think of the reworked story.

I received some useful feedback on that particular story, but the most useful point was when one critiquer said, “I am unclear on the emotional arc.”

A lightbulb went off for me around some of the struggles I have been having with the Gold Lion – that too lacks clarity in it it’s emotional arc.

I remember when I got feedback ages ago on another short story and realized that an overarching issue in my writing was a tendency to slip into the passive voice. I’ve worked on that issue for a while now (and will no doubt still need to work on it), but I think that the new overarching issue to work on is this question of clarity in the emotional arc.

I started poking around for ideas about mapping that out, and found a useful post on the blog marlenygate. It’s geared more toward script writing, but I’ve had no trouble adapting it to a novel.

I hope that working with this visual map of the emotional arc will begin reinforce the structure of it, so that as I write new works, I am beginning from a greater place of clarity. And perhaps when I’ve tackled my long list of editing tasks, I will apply it to The Silvered Sword and see what happens there.

If you’re interested in a blank Emotional Arc that you can fill out like the one at merlenygate, please feel free to use the one I made for my own use: Emotional Arc.pdf