TIPS ON ESTABLISHING THE
7 ELEMENTS OF A STORY:
SETTING: It’s important that your setting matches the atmosphere of your story. Don’t make it heaven if the atmosphere is hellish. Take the readers somewhere they would enjoy going, and you are familiar with. Or take them somewhere exotic to grab and keep their interest. This might mean more research for you, but it can be a market aspect for the book. Example: Murder in Budapest, who wouldn’t enjoy traveling vicariously to India. Or like in the Lillian Dove Mystery Series, my familiarity with the state and its citizens made this setting a natural for me. I know the people of Iowa. In fact, I could walk down the streets of Oxford, Iowa, and say hello cousin. Many would be a direct hit. Plus, no one ever goes to Iowa on vacation, so it still clicks the exotic notch.
CHARACTERS: Protagonist and Antagonists-- The protagonist is your hero or main character. The antagonist is what motivates the protagonist’s movements or needs. Know these two main characters as well as your BFF. Do deep interviews with both. Know what they want and need and what stops them from getting it. It is also good to do interviews with other characters as well. The better you know the character, even if a minor one, the greater chance your reader will have to relate to their action or dialog. If you need questions to interview a character, just email me. I am happy to send you some I use.
POINT OF VIEW:
Omniscient point of view: Think of yourself as God.
Detached observer: Narrator telling what happened.
First person: The hardest point of view to write well. A single character is telling the story, “I”.
THEMES: There are so many and there is such little time to talk about them all. But generally, a good story has three or more (depending on the length). A theme is the major idea the author wants to get across with the book. Minor Themes then work to project the major. Example: Slaughterhouse-Five, even though it is a book about WWII, it is an Anti-War themed book. The minor themes which give the reader an Anti-War opinion are: Absurdities of War; Freewill-Determinism; Death; Meaninglessness of Life; Darwinism vs. Christianity; Authority to Blame. Okay an easier one. The film and movie Wizard of Oz. The major theme is happiness is where you find it. Minor Themes: Childhood; Self-Sufficiency; Virtue; Friendship; Good vs. Evil; Family; Value of a Journey.
PLOT: Conflict- The dispute or struggle the story engages in exploring.
Inner Conflict: Emotional or Psychological. In Wizard of Oz, Dorothy needs to find a way to be happy.
Outer Conflict: Physical Events. In Wizard of Oz, Dorothy needs to do the journey, destroy the witch.
Climax: The peak or apex of the conflict. Dorthy melts witch.
DENOUEMENT: This is the resolution or conclusion of the story. For Dorothy, the climax was in defeating the witch and getting rewarded by the Wizard. Only, she finds the Wizard is of no help and she could have had what she wanted at any time—click those red slippers! In a mystery, the climax is generally finding the solution to the mystery. The Denouement is the happy detective after having had such a success.
FOR FURTHER READING:
Good Books on Writing to pick up:
I have personally read and taken tips from all these books I am recommending.
Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Powers of the Story by James Scott Bell
Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel, by Elizabeth George
13 Ways At Looking at the Novel, by Jane Smiley
How to Plot and Write A Brilliant Story from One Powerful Question, by Susan May Warren
Creating Compelling Characters from The Inside Out, by L. M. Lilly
Thinking Theme, The Heart of the Matter, by William Bernhardt
Writing Your Story’s Theme, by K. M Weiland
Shirley Jackson, author of the short story The Lottery, is said to have been walking her baby in its carriage through the neighborhood when the story “The Lottery” came to her. She said it came to her all at once.
A moment of grace.
So far, that moment hasn’t ever happened for me.
And, I still teach for a day job. I read and edit quickly. Move on…
The process I use to write is probably very different than another author’s. We come about the words in different ways, but eventually, we are the same in needing to get those words down on paper.
The point of any process…getting it done.