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Plot Arcs in Oz

June 6, 2014

What’s a plot arc? In general, writers fall into one of two camps: those who are character driven and those who are plot driven in their technique and style.  As a character/voice writer, plot does not come easily for me. I’ve had to work at it.

A plot arc begins with a small introduction, maybe a chapter or two to get the story started, and then launches into an inciting incident. Although this event does not need to be action packed, it does need to affect the protagonist and change their direction or life path in some way. From there, the protagonist moves forward toward his/her goal or quest. The author must give them small challenges and obstacles along the way. The climax of one’s story is the protagonist’s final confrontation, and from there, the story winds down with one or two last chapters.

Still confused? I think it can be best understood by following a movie plot, like the Wizard of Oz. The first scene takes place in Kansas, introducing us to the characters. Once the tornado strikes and blows Dorothy to Oz, the plot’s hit it’s inciting incident. The yellow brick road is loaded with obstacles and challenges, pushing the story forward. The wicked monkeys that terrify young viewers are followed closely by the melting witch and the meeting of the great and powerful Wizard of Oz . Ultimately, Dorothy realizes that she need only click her heels together to find her way home. It makes for an action packed climax. The final chapter of the movie sets her back in Kansas, explaining her “dream”.

While not all plot arcs are as easy to chart as the Wizard of Oz, once you look for a pattern, you should be able to plot the arc of a movie or a book fairly easily. The tricky part is doing it on your own. Good luck!

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