Hello and welcome from a very sultry London! I know we are kind of in the lazy hazy summer season with plenty of exciting sport on the television, but that doesn’t mean it’s a reason to slack off from writing – or at least thinking about it!
So you are putting together a story. For now we are going to ignore the genre. The main components for any story are character, plot, setting/location, conflict, point of view, you can also include theme and tone.
Character in fiction
When putting your story together character is the most important element. Take your time and really think about your main protagonist as your readers will decide to read or not read your book based on your main character. Trust me, this is how it works!
It helps to see your main character as a real person with all the attributes, of a real person. These can include how they look physically, their personality, likes, dislikes, dreams, nightmares, jobs, siblings, parents, country of origin, hobbies, every single thing you can think of. It should end up looking like a CV with everything on it! You will not need to show all this information in your novel but it will help you tremendously! And in some ways the more you know your character, especially the central character, the easier your novel will be to write.
If you read and study the works of the British crime writer Martina Cole you will notice that her books are long and detailed. She often has a lot of detailed back story and her books have multiple characters. Obviously I can’t know for sure how well she plans her books but judging by her sales and her popularity she is certainly getting everything exactly right!
Once you have created your characters you need to give your main character a problem or a conflict, something they need to overcome by the end of your story. Therefore your plot should show all the obstacles, and issues facing your main character. This will clearly include the antagonist/minor characters who will form sub-plots and who will deepen your story.
And just like a real person in a real-life situation the events have to take place somewhere. Top tip: modern fiction has a strong sense of location. So you will need to mention the area, street names, local attractions (if relevant) the landscape. Just imagine you are describing an area to a person who is new in town. It might be a good idea to visit the location in which your book is set. Nothing beats an authentic take and it will add to the accuracy of your tale.
That’s just the thing. You are attempting to create a world that will feel real to your readers. Even the most far-fetched story should contain elements of the truth. You don’t want your readers to toss your book aside because it is too ridiculous. So research is very important.
When you are putting your story together remember it is a work of fiction, however this does not mean you cannot take inspiration from real-life. Think about the people you know, look at life’s events, happenings, such as weddings, divorces, death, births. Everything in life can be seen as a story and should act as rich material for the budding writer.
My final tip and the most important is to PLAN your novel. Writing a full-length book is a big undertaking where lots of aspects need to be coordinated. Your aim is to make your novel as realistic and as engaging as possible!
Until next time, happy writing! S