Assuming this vocabulary: the narrative arc is the arc which makes the plot go forward, while the emotional arc is the arc which engage the character on a deeper, not always logical level.

While there are several lists of narrative arcs archetypes, it seems that the emotional arcs are a path less traveled. I think that both are equally important tools for a writer.

I'm looking for a list of different emotional arcs archetypes, or several if many different exists (like there are a couple different ones with narrative arcs). Anybody knows about this?

  • Are you referring to something like the Kübler-Ross model?
    – NofP
    Sep 23, 2019 at 15:22
  • 1
    @NofP Maybe I'm not clear enough; this is about writing techniques. I want to know more about the "emotional arc" equivalent of The Seven Basic Plots. I believe that emotional arcs and narrative arcs are both equally important, but there's much less information available on how to write emotional arcs. I want to improve on my theoretical knowledge on the matter.
    – laancelot
    Sep 23, 2019 at 15:31
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    Is this at all useful? novel-software.com/… If so I can expand on it in a proper answer, but wanted to check if it's relevent first. It's a Character Driven Hero's Journey. Oct 4, 2019 at 11:45
  • @TheNovelFactory This is actually useful (I went to read the source from the source). I' quite familiar with the hero's journey, but Palmer's take on the subject is quite interesting. That's not exactly what I was after, but I'm really glad you pointed it out.
    – laancelot
    Oct 4, 2019 at 16:32
  • @laancelot Really glad it was helpful, if not quite a full answer to your question :) Oct 7, 2019 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


There are Six Emotional Arcs

"A group of researchers, from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide, set out to do. They collected computer-generated story arcs for nearly 2,000 works of fiction, classifying each into one of six core types of narratives (based on what happens to the protagonist):

There are Six different Emotional Arcs

  1. Rags to Riches (rise)

  2. Riches to Rags (fall)

  3. Man in a Hole (fall then rise)

  4. Icarus (rise then fall)

  5. Cinderella (rise then fall then rise)

  6. Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)

Their focus was on the emotional trajectory of a story, not merely its plot. They also analyzed which emotional structure writers used most, and how that contrasted with the ones readers liked best."

(You can find out more about the research and how they conducted it in the links below.)

Basically, the idea is that those six plotlines had the most emotional impact on readers and contained more emotion.



  • Thanks for the answer. I appreciate the time and effort. I am aware of The Seven Basic Plots, and I get the idea, but I'm not looking for plotlines which will make readers feel emotions, but for the emotional equivalent of plotlines. While the plot makes the story go forward, the characters' inner feelings makes for another kind of progression. In a good story, those two sets of arcs will be entwined, and have an effect one on the other. There are a lot of resources for archetypal plots, but not for archetypal emotional changes.
    – laancelot
    Oct 6, 2019 at 18:02

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