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Story Arc

A Story Arc (arc as in "over-arching storyline") is a sequence of series installments, TV episodes, comic issues, or a certain period of time in a Video Game that puts characters through their paces in response to a single impetus; basically, an ongoing storyline.

Understanding the story arc

A story arc is the conceptual structure of the development of situations over time within a narrative

For example, you could say that the Bible has a story arc, beginning with the Creation and concluding with the Apocalypse. You imagine an "arc", where there's a starting point, change and development, and then a conclusion.  


So that you can better understand the meaning of story arc, here are some examples of the term being used correctly within sentences. 

"In the third season of the popular television show, the story arc had led to the protagonist finding himself at a low point in his life, having lost his job and all his friends." 

"The story arc of the original Star Wars trilogy follows the traditional mythological pattern of the monomyth—and this is perhaps why it became so wildly successful." 

"The comic book's story arc came under strong criticism for failing to develop the character in a plausible way and provide the reader with any resolution or catharsis at the end." 

Now, here are a couple guidelines you can follow in order to make sure that you are using the term story arc in a correct way. 

1. The term story arc is usually used in connection with media that are presented in a serial or episodic format. Television shows and comic books are good examples of narrative structures that are always said to have a story arc. 

2. Any narrative work, though, can be understood as having a story arc. For example, a novel develops a story arc across its chapters. The story arc just refers to the structure of the narrative's progression, usually in terms of the changes experienced by the protagonist over time. 

Further information 

The actual term story arc was apparently only coined in the year 1988; and it initially had a close relationship with the genre of the television show. This is presumably because television shows are developed one episode at a time, with the result that producers would need to have some idea of the broader story arc in order to bring coherence to the series as a whole. The term, however, has been retroactively applied to all kinds of genres. In principle, every narrative has a structure; and that structure can be called a story arc. 

In general, the story arc is defined by the transformations experienced by a character over the course of the narrative. For example, in the New Testament, the story arc begins with Jesus's birth; it proceeds to his baptism and temptations in the desert; then it turns to his ministry; and finally, it culminates in his crucifixion and resurrection. There is a real progression across these different phases, with the narrative being driven by changes that happen within the protagonist. More generally, the concept of the story arc often has a mythological or heroic resonance: it often follows the trope of a character achieving an increasingly deeper understanding of himself—which often includes the character reaching a low point but then returning from it stronger than he was before. 

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