Showing posts with label most important writing element. Show all posts
Showing posts with label most important writing element. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2023

Is There a Number One Writing Element?

 


Contributed by Karen Cioffi

 There’s a lot of information on the elements of writing.

You have characters, setting, point-of-view, style, theme, plot, and even literary devices.

But you also have things like readability, consequences, and uniqueness.

Could you choose which of these elements is the most important?

It’s tough, isn’t it?

Well, after doing some research and reading a number of articles, the answer became simple.

The most important element to writing fiction is the WHY.

You can have all the above mentioned elements in your story, but if the why is missing, the story will fall flat. The reader won’t bother turning the pages.

So, what’s the WHY?

The why is usually the inciting incident.

It’s the reason you wrote the story and the reason the reader will bother reading it.

Studiobinder explains that, "the inciting incident should have a snowball effect. Let the story grow from the one thing that goes wrong (or right) like a snowball would if it rolled down a hill.”

The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japanese-American Internment Camp is a middle grade story that has a significant and jolting inciting incident.

The protagonist is a nice boy of Japanese descent. At the outbreak of WWII, he and his family are taken to an internment camp. The protagonist’s life is turned upside down. They lose everything and are imprisoned.

Readers are immediately grabbed and want to know what happens to the boy.

Keep in mind that the inciting incident doesn’t have to be a bomb going off and destroying the protagonist’s home and family. It could be something simple that snowballs into something huge.

Sleepless in Seattle is one of my favorite movies, but the inciting incident doesn’t really seem to be of much consequence at the moment. Tom Hank’s character talks on the phone to a radio show psychologist about how difficult it is to cope with the loss of his wife.

While it’s a touching scene, it’s the aftermath of that call that creates the snowball effect.

Women, including Meg Ryan’s character, hear the conversation on the radio and immediately all want to be the woman who heals Tom Hank’s character’s broken heart.

This turns the protagonist’s life upside down.

In the two examples above, it was an external factor that created the inciting incident. But what if it’s an internal struggle?

In Walking Through Walls, the protagonist, Wang, doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps of tending to a wheat field that he doesn’t own. So, he journeys to become a mystical Eternal.

It’s Wang’s laziness, greed, and want of power that is the why of the story.

The inciting incident isn’t bomb-like, but it sends him off on a journey that changes him forever.

According to the article, "What is the Most Important Element When Writing a Story?", “As a novelist, you have to hone in on the event that brings the story into being and why your reader should care. That why is the question at the heart of every novel. The why is one of the first things readers look for when we pick up a book.”

While every element in writing is important in that when combined, they create a synergy that can create a powerful and memorable story, it’s the why that’s at the heart of every story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
https://thewritingworld.com/your-author-platform/

Karen’s children’s books include “Walking Through Walls” and “The Case of the Stranded Bear,” and her DIY book, “How to Write Children’s Fiction Books.” You can check them out at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/. If you need help with your children’s story, visit: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com.  




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