Skilled storytellers have many tricks up their sleeves, plus every good story needs to have certain elements present in order to hold the reader’s interest. It is widely recognised that there are 5 elements that make up a good story, which are as follows.
- Plot – Of course, every story must have a plot; the plot would be a series of actions, which are introduced in the opening chapters of the story. The plot would be the first thing the creator would consider; a storyline is carved out from start to finish, with some red herrings thrown in for good measure. There are many tools that writers use to spice up a plot; What is Chekhov’s Gun? This is just one example of foreshadowing, which is commonly found in classic stories.
- Setting – The time and the place, the setting is usually rolled out at the start of the story; it might be set in Medieval Europe in the 15th century, or perhaps the main character was a WWII pilot who falls in love while on active duty. There are a few ways to introduce the setting; you could inject a few clues within the first 5 pages and get the reader to speculate on the where and when, or you could start with a detailed description to paint a complete picture for your reader.
- Characters – The people and animals that make up the story fit into various types of character; the protagonist and the antagonist. The former is your central hero, the person the reader is cheering for, while the antagonist is there to create conflict and bring in uncertainty and danger. The central character would be the main focus of the story, while there would be many supporting characters, each playing a specific role in the story.
- Point of view – This is the perspective of the storyteller; it might be from the eyes of a teenage boy who witnesses war atrocities, or even as a fly on the wall, observing in a neutral capacity. Choices include 1st, 2nd or 3rd person, with some subtle variations, and your choice very much defines your scope. This can often be an issue with a writer, who might be looking at 2 or more points of view and cannot choose.
- Conflict – Every story needs conflict, which can come in many forms; it might be a huge grizzly bear, or an evil madman who happens to be a multi-millionaire, in some stories, there are numerous conflicts and some red herrings that are designed to lead the reader to a different conclusion. As you would expect, there are a few conflict types; character Vs self, character Vs nature, character Vs society and even character Vs character.
If you are a budding fiction author, there are some cool online resources to help you; Google can take you to such a website, where you can browse their drama packages. Make sure you have a firm plan on how the story pans out before you start writing and identify all the components listed above.