Saturday, August 4, 2007

Structure And Components Of A Story.

A Review By My Den.
Further to the writing tips mentioned in my earlier posts ( The Art of Writing Fiction and Tips on Writing Fiction ), today's post highlights the components of a story. While aspiring writers should be equipped with a certain amount of technical knowledge to be effective, i would like to suggest that aspiring writers need not be too bog down or be unduly worried about the technical aspects of writing but to just go ahead and write for the enjoyment it brings. I am sure you will pick up further writing tips along your own writing journey, just as i did. While more experienced writers will have better insights, the following are the conclusions that i had gathered in my short writing journey. A story is essentially make up of the following components :

* Theme
* Plot
* Setting
* Characters
* Dialogue
* Point of view
* Style

A theme is the main idea or meaning behind a story. The theme of a story is often abstract and not addressed directly in the narrative. It is imparted to the story by the concrete events and dialogue occurring in the story.

A plot is the organization of events that will take place in the story. Plot and characters carry the elements of the story. The plot must be believable, plausible, interesting and most importantly, engaging. It is a sequence of events connected in a cause-and-effect manner. Generally, the plot consists of a series of increasingly more intense conflicts, a climax (the most intense part of the story) and a final resolution. The plot must be advanced as the story unfolds and in general, the closer to the end of the story the climax is placed, the better.

The setting is the place, time and in some cases, the environment in which the story takes place. The setting should be specifically described in detail to make the story seem real, to set the atmosphere and mood of the story. The setting also exert limitations on the characters and helps to establish the basic conflict of the story. It can be used for contrast, having something taking place in an unexpected place. In general, the more unfamiliar the reader is with the setting, the more interesting the story is.

Characters are the people or animals in a story. A well written story will have characters that readers can identify with and care about as they seem so real. Characters should be introduced early in the story and the more often a character is mentioned, the more significance the reader will attach to the character. The nature of characters can be brought out through description, actions, thoughts and dialogue of the characters.

Dialogue is the spoken words of the characters in the story and it makes fiction seem real. Interior dialogue is what a character is thinking. Dramatic dialogue is a character thinking out loud, without response from other characters. Indirect dialogue is the narrator telling what a character said. Dialogue should be used to develop character or to advance the story. It should not be used just to hear characters talk. A small amount of dialect in dialogue can be used to establish the nature of the character but should not be overuse as dialect can be difficult to read. The level of use of language by the characters i.e. pronunciation, diction, grammar etc, is often used to characterize people in a story. The form of dialogue use should be varied to keep the reader interested.

Point of View
Point of view is the relative identification of the narrator with the characters. A first person point of view has the main character telling the story or a secondary character telling the main character's story. Everything that happens in the story must be seen or experienced by the character doing the narration. The reader's judgment of other characters in the story will be heavily influenced by the narrator. A first person point of view gives a sense of intimacy to the story. Third person point of view can be objective or omniscient. An objective narrator describes actions but not the inner thoughts or feelings of the characters while an omniscient narrator can describe all the actions of all the characters and their inner thoughts and feelings as well.

Style is the writer's use and the method of using the language. The choice of words can help set the tone and pace of the story. Mistakes in language will greatly detract from the story being told. Shorter, concrete words tend to be stronger and provides sharper definition while long and flowery words tend to be abstract. Writing in a concise, precise, concrete, and specific manner will flesh out the story better. In general, the longer the work, the less important language becomes. Above all, the writer's work must tell a story. A writer should not be too concerned with the words used than with the story the writer is trying to tell. However, a combination of a good story with good language used, will be a delight to read.

Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
A great book for budding writers, Characters & Viewpoint, is full of explanations, instructions, viewpoints as well as entertainment. If you want to write stories that are engaging and full of imagination, then I highly recommend that you read this book. A valuable, informative and entertaining guide, it is fun to read and easy to understand. Orson Scott Card makes informative and lasting insights into the creation of each character. This is not just a STEP A to STEP Z version of writing instructions but breaks down the elements of writing for many want-to-be writers. It is also filled with little anecdotes and any writer, no matter how experienced, would benefit from this book. Its an excellent reference that forces the reader to THINK.

*Related posts :
- The Art Of Writing Fiction
- Tips On Writing Fiction

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