Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?
Ah, if it were only that simple.
Today, there are a number of rules to writing that didn’t plague writers years ago when the world was slower and people actually had time to sit and read at a leisurely pace. Writers had the luxury of setting scenes in detail and didn’t have to worry about ‘telling’ too much.
Now, publishers want your story to begin with a BAM. Grab the reader right away, or you’ll lose her. And, it’s important that setting and telling are limited. In addition, don’t forget to magically weave backstory for your characters seamlessly into the mix.
So, what is the right balance of writing elements that will create a successful story?
Well, there really isn’t a pat formula. Each story will call for its own particular amounts of elements, and each publisher will have her own set of rules that the author must adhere to. But there are certain basics that all stories must contain.
The five basic elements of a story are:
Plot: The arrangement of circumstances and/or events in the story, including conflicts and resolution.
Character: Without the main character and supporting characters the plot is useless. It is the character’s struggle to overcome the conflicts or obstacles in his path that gives the plot life.
Setting: This element includes the physical backdrop of the story, the time period and location.
Atmosphere or Tone: The mood, including the setting, characters and their clothing, weather, and other elements within the story, determines the tone of the story.
Style: The author’s way of expressing herself is the style. Sentence structure, diction, choice of words, point of view, imagery, and symbols are all means of conveying a story that is unique to the author.
In regard to the amounts or balance of each element, the objective is to create a story that continually moves forward toward a satisfying conclusion while holding the reader’s attention. You can have a plot driven story, or a character driven story, you can also have a story with a lot of dialogue, but you need to be sure the story is focused, coherent, and engaging.
Often, as you self-edit your own work, you won’t be able to see if the elements are just right; you should have it critiqued and have an editor take a look at it to see if you’re on the mark. And, then after all that, it will be up to the publisher’s editor to give the final say on whether you have just the right balance of writing elements for a successful story.
Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.
Check out the DIY Page and don’t forget to sign up for The Writing World Newsletter - it has great monthly writing and book marketing tips and it's FREE.
Get your copy of Walking Though Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure set in 16th century China).
MORE ON WRITING
Children’s Writing – Creating your Main Character P1
How to Write Better Endings to Your Stories
Taking Inspiration for Fiction from NonFiction
We all will need to handle feedback at one time or another in our careers. For the writer, this feedback is usually the critique of either...
You may be an author or writer who takes the time to comment on other websites. This is an effective online marketing strategy. It builds br...
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson Awards Set Your Book Apart But Ya Gotta Enter Contests to Get ‘Em Excerpted from the new edition of The ...
I sometimes run Q and A a la Ann Landers columns in my SharingwithWriters newsletter using questions that my clients ask me or that subsc...