What’s In Your Arc?

I was invited to submit an article for an upcoming book, a collection of stories focused on the topic of joy.

In this world of negativity, selfishness, and public media reporting on stories that stir up drama, I was honored to be selected as a contributing author. However, as with all articles of submission, the option for editing my story was highly suggested. The coordinators wanted each story to be well-written.

An email notification arrived a few weeks after the deadline. The instructions were clear – editing would be required for all submissions.

I was unsure at first because this was “my story” – why would I have someone potentially change “my” words at all? Would it change the intent of my story? Would my voice be changed by an unknown editor?

Then my cellphone notified me of an incoming call. It was the editor…

Apparently, we met recently at a writers conference but I did not have the opportunity to get to know her very well. She was supportive and immediately, my mind was put at ease. She explained how the editing process would work and her task was to help “tighten” my writing.

What did that mean – “tighten” my writing???

My short story, an excerpt from my book, had to be reduced to less than 1500 words (the original chapter had twice the limit of words). Nevertheless, my writers group felt this chapter would be a perfect addition to the Joy Anthology book scheduled to be released by the end of the year.

This editor began by helping me create the arc of my story.

You may be asking “What is an arc?” Don’t worry – I asked the same question. Here was the explanation (paraphrased).

The arc is the overall focus of the story. In a book, there is a main arc and each chapter contains sub-arc‘s (if you will) that links together under the umbrella of the main arc.

Consider your favorite movie or book. Most will begin with an action scene setting the tone for the rest of the story. That’s the arc and it is the “hook” that keeps the audience engaged. The arc was something that hinted at the purpose of the story.

The editor was skillful in teaching and helping me to shape my arc. That was a very valuable lesson for me as this provided the missing element to my submission.

One would believe that I was a bad writer because this short story took nearly six hours to complete the editing process!

I was exhausted mentally but in my heart, I was glad to have been coached by her. In fact, at the start of our editing session, she asked how I felt about receiving writing advice from her – I said that “I am an open book” (yes, I said it and noted the bad pun).

She laughed.

When I received the final draft, I was very happy that I had put aside my ego and allowed a more experienced writer/editor help shape my submission. I can hardly wait for the book to arrive and will share it on this blog soon.

So if you are a blogger or writer of any sort, do not forget your arc – it is the cornerstone of your story!

Better yet, consider your arc – what is your life purpose and how will your daily arc‘s link together for your legacy to others?

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