So far this year we've talked about gathering your ideas and determining if your idea is big enough. Today we're going to get basic and make sure we have the five essential elements of a story. This can also be considered an overview of what we'll spend the next couple months delving into:
Back in October, when I asked you guys what you were most interested in talking about, many of you had questions about characters. Which is great, because the importance of crafting good characters really can't be overstated. Last week I was talking to my mom and she shared that she was reading a book she didn't like. "You know what I finally decided?" she said. "I don't like any of the characters. I think I'm just going to stop reading it."
Every book should have one main character. That's right - one. As in uno. As in lone. As in the only main character. Your main character determines the way the plot will develop and is (usually) the person who will solve the problem the story centers around. But it's also very important to have a great cast of secondary characters as they supply additional details, explanations, conflict, and so forth. A couple things we'll cover are making your characters necessary to the story, how to name your characters, combining roles, how to make them sound different, and so on.
The setting is, obviously, the location of the action. And some are more unique and memorable than others. Like an enormous chocolate factory or a giant peach. I adore Roald Dahl. We'll also talk about historical settings, research, etc.
A plot has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Many newbie writers develop only their main character's plot, but every character in your novel should have their own plot and we're going to talk about it. (Okay, don't take that to the extreme. Like the teacher who has one line doesn't need a plot, but your antagonist and secondary characters need to have things happening as well.)
James Scott Bell (I like his books, so you'll be hearing his name a lot on here) says Concept + Character x Conflict = a Novel. Without conflict, you have no story.
The solution to the problem the main character has been trying to solve. A satisfying ending takes work, care, and patience. Ever read a book with an unsatisfying ending? Yeah. Annoying, isn't it? We'll talk about happily ever afters and mostly-happily ever afters and maybe even some not-so-happily ever afters.
So as you're looking at your idea, make sure you've covered your basics.
See y'all back here on Wednesday!