Many writers hope to gain ‘the secret’ to to the Great Novel. You know the novel; the one that will make you millions, grant you fame, and change lives for others all over the world? With the number of would-be authors, they often ask how to write compelling stories. A story, however, is made of many parts.
Any good story doesn’t consist of one element, but many. You have plot, characters, setting, and magic of artful storytelling. More importantly, you find a good writer weaves a tale with words like an artist.
I enjoy stories for different reasons. Good storytelling is great, but some stories I’ll forgive bad writing if the characters can carry the weight of the story. sometimes the plot intrigues me.
A good example of personal taste would be the Twilight series. I read the first chapter of the first book and not only did it not interest me, I found a visceral dislike to the main character of Bella. Where I hoped for a great vampire story, I felt betrayed with a book of romance, which just so happens to include vampires. I couldn’t relate to the characters, I found the story telling trite, and frankly, I haven’t a clue how Stephanie Myers managed to gather the number of fans she has.
But her books touched something inside these fans, and that’s the important quality of any good writer. Myers doesn’t have a great style or strong Voice, yet managed to touch millions with her writing. Was it plot? Characters? The sparkly vampires? I think this varies from reader to reader.
I can also be honest when I say I enjoy Stephan King’s work- his short stories- but find his tomes of horror too much. I tried reading the Tommyknockers, and the pages upon pages of detail bored me to no end. His short story, The Crate, on the other hand, nearly gave me nightmares. I was creeped out for weeks after reading that one.
A novel consists of;
Plot- including conflict, the climax, and the resolution.
Characters- to carry the story and give the reader someone to care about and root for along their adventure.
Setting(s)- and this includes times. This could also mean historical or science fiction (future or alternative reality).
Dialogue- how characters speak to one another can carry the plot. Even inner dialogue of a character can help expose plot.
Voice- This is the writer’s style in writing, whether its lyrical, rife with metaphors, or concise and to the point.
So if you find weakness in one aspect of writing, take heart that stories are of many parts and you still might find readers enjoying that specific part.