Connecting Emotional and Narrative Arcs

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Connecting Emotional and Narrative Arcs

The emotional arc is the inner conflict; the narrative arc is the outer conflict. How do you get these two arcs to mesh?

Peter Dunne, in his book Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot has a simple suggestion. Dunne says to write the headline of a scene on an index card, and jot a few notes about the action being careful to only hit high points. Turn the card over and write a headline for the emotional content of this scene and jot a few notes about how the emotions change, being careful to only hit high points.  I’ve been doing my scenes on a spreadsheet, so I just added a column for emotion.

This is hard! At least for me.

If Jamie watches his Dad beat Red in a bowling tournament, how does Jamie feel about Red? Is he sympathetic, picturing himself in the situation of a painful loss? Or is he scornful of Red for choking at an important moment?

Turning the card over(or filling in an extra column) forces me to consider what my character would really feel in this situation. And it connects the inner and outer conflict in a simple, yet, powerful way.

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