11 Items that Constitute a Story

img_7900All the things that constitute a fiction story are intertwined. They all react to and from each other. Characters direct experiences and events fashion characters. The characters are reflections of their environments, and impact on those locations.

1. Characters
The characters are essential to successful fiction. The reader will not give a damn about the antagonist if that character is not likeable or interesting. The reader re-reads stories because they enjoy being in the company of the characters.
Names: The name of a character does enforce a reaction. What’s the difference between Charles, Chuck and Charlie? Between Jim, James and Jimmie?
Dialogue: Even though the author should write perfect grammatically correct English withing any dialogue. This diction and syntax do reveal a lot about the characters.
Action: A character is as they do.
Description: If a character’s physical description is described, we must assume it is for a good reason. In the short stories I have written and had published so far, I have not indicated whether the protagonist is male or female. Why? Reviews I have obtained of my story show that the women that read them think the protagonist is a woman and the men believe that they are male. This does become natural to the reader. If I were to choose a gender for my protagonist, then the other sex readers would already be out of their comfort zone.

2. Setting
The settings that occur are sometimes general. For example somewhere in the UK or USA in the latter half of the twentieth century, or early twenty-first century. Having locations, you are familiar does enable you to become relaxed about the things that might happen and events that things may cause. Having a setting in the distant past in another place of the world that you have not been doing require research. This research takes time and does bring more ideas of things that may result from an action.

3. Plot
There are different types of scenarios that the protagonist experiences with internal and external forces: Chase, love, sex, argument, fight, conflict and hunt. Of course, there are more general scenes that show the action in between events such as those listed.

4. Foreshadowing
Actions, dialogue and images are hints to future incidents. Foreshadowing enhances the sense of inevitability and coherence in a story. The end of a story should seem inevitable, and this aspect can help the author to play with the reader’s imagination. Leading them down the wrong path.

5. Symbolism
This aspect concisely conveys meaning and/or reinforces the plot. Heavy handed or intrusive symbolism can overpower the reader and make things seem artificial or contrived. Symbols should generally blend into the story, but be apparent to a discerning reader.

6. Irony
This aspect adds to the textual richness of a work of fiction. Life is full of ironies.
Situational Irony: What we expect to happen doesn’t.
Dramatic Irony: The reader knows something the character doesn’t.
Verbal Irony: What a character says is not what the character actually means.

7. Theme
The timeless and universal truths or at least the author’s idea of truth manifested through events and the characters.

8. Motif
A subtheme or a pattern of images or actions.

9. Tone
The attitude towards a subject. Light-hearted? Somber? Wry? Cynical? Admiring? Sentimental? Hard-boiled?

10. Mood
How characters feel about their present circumstances. Tone and mood might coincide or clash. A role’s attitude may be self-pitying

11. P.O.V. – Point Of View
Whose eyes do we see events taking place, the thoughts and feelings that ensue?

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