September 18: Narrative arc

A look at how a narrative arc helps your reader follow and stay interested in your story.

Source: Clear Voice
Published: April 2019

Narrative arc

Whether you’re writing an operating plan (e.g., OP1), a children’s book, or a pitch for a startup, employing a narrative arc helps your reader follow your story.

Exposition — the background information, such as historical context.

Rising action — a conflict that gives rise to the main purpose of your writing.

Climax — the most exciting or important part of the story, the main point.

Falling action — the de-escalation of tension or conflict to make way for the conclusion.

Resolution — the ending point where the story ties up neatly.

Example: Amazon Echo’s commercial “Cooking Together” is a 30-second ad that uses the narrative arc.

Exposition: a woman burns a duck she’s cooking and uses the Alexa video calling feature to ask her father for help.

Rising Action: her father instructs her as she puts together a new meal.

Climax: the woman quickly puts together a beautiful pasta dinner.

Falling Action: dinner is ready, the doorbell rings, and her dad asks, “what’s his name?”

Resolution: “Alexa, hang up,” and as she walks to get the door, we see “Dinner with Sam” on her Echo Show’s home screen.

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