Story Writing Elements - 16 Golden Rules
Story Elements Differ in Message, Content and Characters
Does your story contain the proper elements? You need more than theme, plot, and dialogue. Check yourself against this list to see what elements may be missing.
The theme is the thread that runs seamlessly from beginning to end, telling the underlying morals of the story. For instance, Gone With the Wind is not about romance and war. The theme is control, manipulation, and weak character.
Usually encased in the central climax scene, or possibly in a series of events.
The gradual increase of momentum and interest that builds at the beginning, reaches a fever pitch in the middle, and declines to resolve story conflicts at the end. Does your arc come too early? Too late?
Some stories move fast and some slow, but all of them move at some rate of speed. Use a combination of fast and slow pacing according to the scenes. High climax scenes move fast. Scenery is slow.
Whether you do it mentally or by proper analysis, most writers will profit by some form of outlining. Knowing where your story is going will save on rewrites and editing.
Have you ever watched a TV show and watched the story end, only to say, "But what happened to? ?" That's because the writer left a loose end dangling.
If you don't have a strong hook in the first or second paragraph, you won't have a reader to worry about entertaining.
Point of View
Which will you use? Right now, stories written in third person limited (past tense) sell the best.
Every story has characters, theme, plot, and resolution. What makes your story different? Answer: The details.
The trick is to make dialogue sound natural. Use contractions, poor English, and half sentences. Become a good eavesdropper and you'll learn to write excellent dialogue.
Every character must bear their own bag and baggage of physical descriptions, emotional hoopla, and psychological concoctions. This is what makes a character 3D. Make a list of 50 characteristics of your two main characters to get to know them well.
This is absolutely essential. Sometimes it may only define how insane a person may be, how irresponsible parents are, or how careless children can become - but it's still research.
Are your scenes out of order? Does your flashback convey the reader back and forth in the proper way? While some authors may dwell on the same scene for a whole chapter, others will skip years in a single sentence. Make your timeline clear.
Your reader is landing in a new story. Let him know where he is. Hint: All stories use settings, but elite writers occasionally use imagery (settings that are mixed with one of the five senses). Example: The smell of salt in the air.
Believe it or not, you can delete 300-500 words out of every 2,500. Fall out of love with your work. Delete favorite phrases. Slash words that end in - ly. What remains will be solid meat.
Show, Don't Tell
If the story states facts, you aren't using Show, Don't Tell (although there must always be a certain amount of narration). Show, Don't Tell is an advanced technique that will probably require a writing class. The gist of it is to not state an emotion outright but rather show it with actions. Hint at it. Make the reader think.
Telling: Ethan has huge muscles.
Showing: "I saw Ethan coming out of the gym and he wasn't wearing a shirt. Wow!"
As you can see, dialogue is an excellent tool for Show, Don't Tell.
Note: Show, Don't Tell always uses 3-5 times more words. That's okay.
If you include all of these things in your story and it still doesn't sell, one or more of the following may be the reason: (1) Weak sentence structure. (2) Your timeline may be skewed. (3) You're not using Show/Don't Tell. (4) You're submitting to the wrong market. (The latter is most likely).
Learn more about story writing elements with a free 20-point writing evaluation. See guidelines at http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com. For more great writing hints, go to http://www.deborahowen.wordpress.com.