Reply To: Some notes on Dara Marks' Transformational Arc

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Thanks for your notes, Raine. They are very helpful and come at a timely moment as I polish the structure of my novel in progress.

A few immediate thoughts which may not stand up to scrutiny. Athelstone wonders about the universality of such frameworks. This has always been my question too. They seem to me too rigid to allow for individual differences in people/characters. One reason I like ‘Take Off Your Pants! Outline your books for faster, better writing’ by Libbie Hawker, which Kate has mentioned elsewhere and which we’re keen on in the SE Course 2016 group, is that it’s so flexible. But maybe the apparent rigidity of other models is because the illustrations they use are often fairy tales or myths. The subtleties of character and everyday life in, say, Middlemarch or Madame Bovary, and the quietness with which information can be given so that if you’re not careful you miss it, seem pushed to the background. I’m fairly committed to realism in my writing. That’s always felt like a barrier between me and these models.

However, as I tease apart the details of my WIP (and find the yawning gaps), reading a model like this is helpful. Some aspects of the Acts can express themselves in quite subtle ways. And I’m thinking that if a part of an act isn’t there in my draft, I must ask myself why. Truth is, I could have missed something important 🙂

Whether a framework like this is adequate for depicting mental health issues, my feeling is probably yes but it all depends on how well it is applied – how the author uses their insights. I think I could fit the framework to A Line Made by Walking, by Sara Baume, which deals with depression. If anyone wants to take up the challenge of measuring text against framework do let us know if I’m right 🙂

PS I wrote this before Raine’s latest comment, all of which I agree with.