Is this a theme we have going here?

English: Quagmire Quagmire and forest The Snic...
English: Quagmire Quagmire and forest The Snicks near to Shouldham Norfolk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There seems to be a continuation of great descriptive words on my desk diary lately, I hope you are keeping notes. As you can see from the definition of quagmire the second explanation is a difficult situation to escape from and it is where my idea for this post came from.

To engage our readers and keep their interest we create situations for our characters that they have to overcome by fair means or foul. The classic story arc sets out critical points that carry our characters through these. Let’s look at them.


We give our readers an insight into our characters ‘normal’ life whether it is modern day, historical or fantastical in nature. This gives our readers a sense of our main character(s).

The Elicit

This can be a multitude of things, as many as your mind can come up with. A situation, occurrence or event that is beyond your protagonist’s control.

The Mission

With the elicit introduced the next ‘step’ is the mission . This may be a struggle to return life to normal or even a new’ better’ normal. The hero may overcome eventually but at what cost? A villain can have the upper hand for some time, forcing our protagonist to try harder.


Not only should we surprise our readers with the unexpected but also create conflict, obstacles and complications for our protagonist. This step is the middle of the story and needs to be compelling for our readers carrying them along with our character and their struggles.

Crucial Decision

With obstacles to overcome our protagonist’s real personality is revealed as the tension rises. There comes a point when a critical decision has to be made and our character has to choose his path. It can be a hard or easy but both will have consequences.


These choices have to result in a peak of tension or climax in the story.


There should be a change in the status of your main character. They may lose something as a consequence or their personality changes as well as their personality. These setbacks should be believable to your reader and develop naturally.


To end your story there should be a resolution for your character. Their personality or values will have changed and they would have learnt from their journey.


Do you have any tips for keeping the tension in your story arc?

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