Elements of Fictional Stories
by Ron Kurtus (14 August 2007)
A fictional story is a sequence of events created by the author's imagination.
The fiction writer uses definite elements such as character, setting, and plot to weave a good story, as well as to provide the artistry of the craft.
To effectively write a good story, it is important to know these elements.
Questions you may have include:
- What are the various elements of fiction?
- What is the definition of each element?
- Why are these elements important?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Elements of fiction
The various elements of a fictional story include:
- Suspension of disbelief
Definition of each element
Each of these elements has a specific role in the story.
The theme is what the story is about. It is a conceptual distillation of the story.
Most stories consist of experiences or events of people and sometimes animals. They are the characters in the story. The protagonist is: the central character of a story. The antagonist is the character that stands in opposition to the protagonist. The antagonist may be many characters or even forces of nature.
There may also be numerous other major and minor characters in a story.
The setting is the location and time, which create the mood and atmosphere of the story. For example, you may have a story set in a small village in England in the 1800s or on a Space Station in the year 2110.
The plot is a related series of events that are revealed in narrative. It usually consists of a conflict, climax and resolution.
The conflict is a character or problem with which the protagonist must contend. The climax is the story's highest point of tension or drama. The resolution is the plot component in which the result of the conflict is revealed.
The plot also may include subplots, which are plots that are part of or subordinate to the main plot
The plots and subplots are broken into scenes, which are pieces of the story showing the action of one event.
Point-of-view or voice
The point-of-view is the perspective of the narrator. It is also called the voice of the story and is either first person ("I did this") or third person ("He slowly walked in").
The third person voice is often called the omniscient point-of-view, as if some all-seeing being was describing what was happening and what people were thinking.
The dialogue is the speech of characters. The narrator might say, "Then Bill spoke..." What Bill says is then part of the dialogue.
Suspension of disbelief
The suspension of disbelief is the reader's temporary acceptance of story elements as believable. Even science fiction must be somewhat believable. This suspension is usually necessary for enjoyment in reading the story.
Importance of elements
It is important that you are familiar with these elements in learning the craft of fiction writing. Having a poor plot or unclear character development can turn a potentially good story into tripe. You need to pick a direction and be consistent in your use of these elements.
As a fiction writer, you use definite elements such as character, setting, and plot to weave a good story. These elements also provide the artistry of the craft. To effectively write a good story, it is important that you know how to use these elements.
Entertain your readers
Resources and references
Elements of Fiction - Bedford/St. Martin's Publishing
Questions and comments
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