Fiction writers often expect the muse to guide them in writing a quality short story or novel. Usually, however, the muse can only take the writer so far. There are several fiction essentials: things that every good story needs to engage the reader and potential publishers.
Fiction Essential One: Characters
Characters in a story must be realistic, fully developed people with whom the readers can relate and sympathize. In order to do this, the writer must create complete personalities for their characters.
Using a character sheet is a good way to create realistic characters. On one, you outline the physical appearance, family, work, and relationship history, and personal opinions and beliefs of the character. The more you know about your character, the easier it is to have them act like a real person in your story.
An important thing to do when creating characters is to give each one a flaw and a motivation. There are no perfect people in the world, and everyone has a reason for the actions they take. Purpose and drive are important fiction essentials.
Fiction Essential Two: Plot
Of course, it is essential for every fiction story to have a plot. A plot is defined as what happens during a story. If your story is little more than a description of an average day in the life of a character, your reader will probably be bored.
A short story will have one strong plot that includes at least one conflict. A conflict is essential in any fiction writing. It causes emotional and actual response in the character, thus engaging the reader in the story.
A novel will often have one strong plot and several subplots. In life, there is usually more than one thing happening at a time: problems at work, your car breaking down, and a romantic interest, for example. Each sub-plot will have a conflict of its own.
Fiction Essential Three: Setting
The setting of a story is where and when it takes place. Often, in longer fiction pieces, there are multiple settings. It is essential to create realistic settings that work in the readers mind.
If your setting is an actual place, New York City for example, you must recreate that setting to be as realistic as possible. Unless you live there, you must research enough to make the city believable to a native New Yorker.
If your setting is a fictional town or city, you must make it believable by providing details familiar enough for a reader to grasp onto. Even if your setting is a science fiction planet or a fantasy magical castle, you must give the story readers something to connect with. Creating a believable setting is essential in any fiction writing.
All three of these things are essential for a good story. It is also important to know how to create them in order to completely entertain the reader. These fiction essentials will either draw the reader into the story, creating a temporary reality for them, or disengage them, causing them to stop reading. Utilizing these important fiction essentials correctly will bring you to story writing success.