Dames, Daggers and Dance: When History Builds It’s Own Perfect Story Arc

** This is a just for interest post, that I wrote back in the days when I was working
commercially, as a secular writer.

This is a chicken or the egg question, for sure. Does the story arc come from literature, or was it
built because the lives of people actually follow that arc? I don’t know.

When I originally put together the chronology of King David’s life events, I was surprised to see that it actually forms a perfect story arc. It made me wonder, whether the concept of story arc was built on literature or reality? If you know, please tell me in the comments. The verses that go with all this are on this page: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject#!life/cjg9

Here is the basic story arc:
If you have a look at David’s story, this is how it pans out:


1. Secretly annointed as the next King, which means God has to kill Saul.
2. Starts work as an underling with King Saul, whilst still humbly serving his own family as a shepherd.
3. David and Goliath incident = rise to fame.

Build Up of Tension

1. Saul becomes jealous of David, thinking David will be the one to kill him; demotes him and tries to kill him several times.
2. David has to run for his life. He goes into hiding. He learns how to be a leader, the hard way.
3. David is betrayed twice; but spares Saul’s life. He knows he is not the one to kill Saul.
4. David is finally exhausted and joins forces with the enemy to survive.
5. The enemy knocks out King Saul, David becomes king of the southern kingdom of Judah, but not all.
white_spacer Now I bet you’re thinking that the climax comes when David becomes king of the entire kingdom. You’re wrong. His story is not about conquest, it’s about character. Yes, he does get the kingdom, as Saul’s successor was murdered in his bed. It’s an easy victory for David and hardly climactic. Yes, David goes on to fight all of Isra’el’s enemies and be a big success. That is not the climactic movement either.
The climax comes when he spies a pretty lady taking a bath… and so begins the end of happiness.


David meets BathSheba, they have an affair (she has a temporary divorce while her husband is at war, as is the custom) and she falls pregnant, David murders her husband to marry her, then gets called out, for being out of line. Yes, you’ve all heard that story, but maybe not the next parts.


1. His son and heir, Amnon, rapes his half-sister. (David had many wives, polygamy was acceptable.)
2. Absalom, the second in-line heir, bides his time and then murders Amnon because of the rape and to get power.
3. Absalom is shunned by David, who knows all this is because he took off with a married woman; and who also knows that under the law, he should kill Absalom… but as a father, he can’t. Then… through deceit, the sociopathic Absalom tries to overthrow his father’s kingdom.
4. David goes into hiding to save the capital city from destruction, and mounts a campaign to get his kingdom back. He is joined by many thousands of loyal followers.
5. David gets the Kingdom back when the head of the army, Joab, murders Absalom – against David’s wishes. Now Joab, has a gem of a story that any author could use. Talk about unfulfilled dreams to be accepted into the inner circle! (Spoiler alert: David’s successor, Solomon, has Joab killed, in the temple which is an absolute no-no as it’s a sanctuary, because he is such a massive security risk to the new kingdom. But I won’t tell you why… Read 1 Kings.)
6. Then all is well again?
white_spacer Never! This is one of those stories where you could put in two climaxes. As later on, with two sons dead, David is deeply broken and repentant, but angered by the rebellion of both his son and some of his kingdom, that he breaks the law. This time it’s not over a woman, rather, he calls for a census to see how big and strong his army is. This is another big no-no as it is against the laws set down by God, via Moses. This is the only time in the Bible where someone is allowed to pick their punishment. He picks the least of all evils. Thousands are killed in a plague. It’s very dramatic.

Then David settles down and gets older, sicker and much wiser. He plans a temple and his health crumbles more.


The next heir in line, takes advantage of his bed- ridden, 68 year old father and tries to take over the kingdom. More intrigue and drama ensues and who gets the throne?… Solomon… the first surviving son of the woman David was never supposed to touch: BathSheba. Of course, Adonijah stages an uprising the minute King David is dead, and Solomon has to have him killed. Through this last part, you are left wondering whether BathSheba was a smart player, or really gullible.

So, how is that for a lovely story for Sunday school? Sex, murder, plagues, rape, war, deceit, power plays. All the ingredients of a very good story and a useful template for any author.


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