The Essential Elements Of A Story

This is from the blog on my publishing site, birdcatcherbooks.com.

A story is a distinct form of literature, different from a memoir, or an essay, or a descriptive piece. Essentially, a story is someone, somewhere, doing something. Without those three elements, it might be a wonderful piece of writing, but it isn’t a story.

“Someone” refers to the character or characters: the ones the story is about. The characters might not be human – several of the stories in the Fledglings anthology have a dog as their character. One even has a tree, which might seem odd but works very well. Conceivably, a clever writer might even use a rock as a character, although there might be a bit of a challenge when it comes to the “doing” part.

The thing is, whether the characters are human, animal, plant or mineral, this is their story. Ask yourself, why would anyone want to read this character’s story? Why do we ever want to hear someone else’s story? Unless we are doing so in a professional capacity, it is always because we like the person, find him interesting, or relate to what she is sharing. The more strongly those things apply, and the more of them apply, the more we are going to want to keep listening.

So, if we want readers who are keen to “hear” our character’s story – and to keep reading, and coming back for more – then we need to build these things into our characters. We need characters our readers will fall in love with (or maybe even love to hate); they need to be fascinating and relevant. In a future post I will talk more about building strong characters.

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