5 Elements of a Story

5 Elements of a Story

These elements are what you’d typically expect to find in a given story.

CHARACTER

These are the real people IN the story. This is also the narrator.

Since these are real people, some may suffer from depression, or make annoying jokes. Eat noisily or breathe from their mouth and pollute everyone’s air with their toxic breath. Some are perfect, but many are flawed.

There are a few types, but to sum up a few, there are main characters, supporting characters, limited-role characters, meaningless characters, and narrators. I’d also argue that animals and elements (lighting or anything personified) are characters. Cujo and Lassie. Or, artificial intelligence. Or conscious objects (think M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening or the TV series The River).

Click here to learn about developing characters.

PLOT

Ah, what a beautiful thing. This is the POINT of your book. The “why OH WHY is this person reading your book?” This isn’t the moral of the story. This IS the story.

More specifically, plot is the main chain-reaction (causal) series of events that create the core of a story. X happens, so Y happened, resulting in Z. It can be based on action/external movement (an initial scuffle leads to a fight, which leads to a battle, which results in the epic showdown), or it can be based on emotional/internal movement (a traumatic experience leads to emotional scars, which leads to substance abuse, which results in the fight to heal and get clean).

Note that if a random guy fist-fought the main character, but nothing ever came of it, then this is something that happened, but isn’t part of the plot since the absence of the scene wouldn’t affect the narrative in any meaningful or significant way.

Click here to learn about unburying your plot.

SETTING

Ah. This is the scenery. The world. The plants. *the people.* The sky. The point in time (decade, era, epoch). Society, culture, general diet, economy, laws. This is THE WORLD where the story happens.

Click here to learn about solidifying your setting.

THEME

This is the point where you answer, “What does it all mean, Basil?” It’s the moral, of the story. Feminism? Sexism? Racism? Bravery?

STYLE.

Ever been confused about voice? Still confused? This, my friend, is voice.

Style is the way you say things. The words you use, the verbs, adjectives. The way you structure your sentences, titles, chapters. Do you outright say it, or hint? Do you use filter words, or avoid them?

Click here for more information on what voice is, and click here to learn how to develop yours.