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What Makes A Novel A Novel? (Five Elements of a Novel)

March 10, 2021

What’s your favorite novel? As you think about it, what do you remember?

Is it the actor? What is it about the actor – his features, things he liked, decisions he took, friends he made?

Is it where or when the story took place – the city, its culture, present, past or future time?

Or the challenges the characters faced – betrayal, hatred, love, etc.?

Those specific things you remember from the story are the elements of the story.

Story elements are the ingredients that make up a story. They are important because readers are able to feel the characters, understand their choices and enjoy the story.

A story that will succeed must have these five basic elements:

The characters:

These are the actors in the story. They may be humans, animals, plants, foreign beings, objects, or spirits. As long as they have thoughts and motivations, they are characters.

Your characters should be developed in the way that readers fall in love with, or dislike them.

Your readers should be able to relate with their feelings, choices, motivations, and others.

Setting:

This refers to the location, and time a story takes place. It could be physical, mental or in space.

Carefully create a setting for your story which your readers will appreciate.

The plot:

Plot is the events that take place in a story – the things that happen, the actions and reactions.

Plot must not always be in order of chronology, and may have different points of view.

Make your plot thick and interesting.

Conflict:

This is the problem that occurs between characters in a story, the drama your readers love to see.

It could be an internal conflict in the mind of a character, or an external conflict between two or more characters in the story.

Resolution:

This is where the conflict ends and the problems are resolved. It is not just about the story’s end.

In the resolution, all the effects of choices made are plain. All the ongoing confrontations throughout the story find a place of peace or ends in war. You must ensure your readers are satisfied with the resolution.  Not like that of ‘Game of Thrones’, which left readers unhappy after the great story plot. If readers are not satisfied with the ending, they might not want to see more of your works.

Look at ‘Harry Potter’, for example or ‘The Lord of The Rings’, readers of those stories still talk about it till date because they enjoyed the way those stories ended.

Everyone deserved what came to them at the end.

Give your readers that same experience.

Learning to write a story is a lifetime journey, as you keep trying new styles and new ways of storytelling. It takes time and patience.

As you understand and put to practice the elements of a story, your writing will improve. The success of your story depends on your story elements.

It encourages purchase of your book, and establishes your name in the hall of fame.

Posted in Creative Writing, Writing Theory

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