Every story has several important components in it; do you know them all, or do you need some help? Find it here.
The same rules apply here that apply everywhere else: No cursing, and please be respectful of all other authors.
Please read the Forum Rules thread before posting.7/27/2012 . Edited 6/16/2014 #1
First, obviously, there has to be a conflict. This conflict can be one of a few different kinds of conflicts:
Man vs. Man-This is your basic conflict, the one everyone knows and uses. There is a protagonist and an antagonist, and they are fighting each other. Examples: Luke and Darth Vader, the Pevensies and the White Witch, Harry Potter and Voldemort, an O.C. and Malistaire, etc.
Man vs. Self-This conflict is when the protagonist develops conflict between his ideas/thoughts. In otherwords, he is both the protagonist and the antagonist. (No, I don't mean he has multiple personalities.) I can't think of an example for this one; if anyone has one, please feel free to add. I would greatly appreciate it. :)
Man vs. Nature-Your basic survival story, ex. anything by Gary Paulsen. The protagonist is lost in the wilderness and has to survive against the wild.
Man vs. Society-This one is a conflict where the protagonist is against the whole place he lives. It's not necessarily that the whole village or whatever is evil, where he is good, but rather, the protagonist has radical ideas about something, and the society doesn't agree. A perfect example would be Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Books are banned, and a fireman (who's job is to burn books and houses rather than save houses from fire) starts thinking that books aren't so bad after all. (That's a VERY rough description; try reading the book if you're interested.)7/27/2012 . Edited 7/27/2012 #2
A story has to have rising action and a climax. Don't just write a story with rising action leading to nothing. Also, here are the five main parts of a story:
1. Exposition: The beginning of the story, setting the stage, introducing characters/the conflict, etc.
2. Rising action: Buildup to the climax.
3. Climax: The most dramatic part of the story, the head of the story, the part where the conflict is usually decided for one side or the other. (You basically figure out who's going to win.)
4. Falling action: Wrap up the conflict and head towards the conclusion. The falling action is sometimes nonexistent, especially if the climax happens right at the end of the story.
5. Resolution: The closure. Everything is worked out. The end.
EXAMPLE: Little Red Riding Hood (Yeah, it's kiddish, but I'm thinking of stuff that EVERYONE knows.)
1. Red is walking through the forest. She is going to visit her grandmother.
2. She arrives at her granny's house and says "My, what big ears/eyes/nose you have."
3. Red says "My, what big teeth you have!" and the wolf says "The better to eat you with!"
4. The huntsman comes and saves Red.
5. They all live happily ever after. The end.7/27/2012 #3
The beginning and ending of a story are the two most important parts. This post will be on the beginning.
Why is the beginning important? Because the beginning is what hooks the readers, what gets them saying, "Hey, this story looks kinda good! I think I would like to read some more!" I cannot stress this enough: your beginning HAS. TO. BE. STRONG. If your beginning sucks and the story gets better by chapter three, well ... you might get lucky and have a few readers who will read through the crappy first two chapters and get to the good stuff, but most people will either stop reading or leave you a flame if the first two chapters are awful. Even if it means revising thirty two times*, make your first few chapters good, at the VERY least. (Actually, make your whole story your best work, but that's beside the point. XD)
*My record at the moment is 17 for a one-page prologue. It's paid off, trust me.
There are several different ways you could go about writing a beginning. Please ask any questions that you have; I'm almost positive that this will be very confusing. O_o
1. You could start out with some kind of "character is in peril" scene. I can't think of any good examples at the moment besides the Ratatouille previews ... O_o Anyways, partway into the scene, have the main character pause the story (like a narrator. This will only work if you're writing in first person.) and give a bit of a summary. "Before I go much farther, I should explain what's going on. See, I was just a normal kid only a few months ago, but of course, normality is usually a magnet for adventure ..." something to that effect. Stop at this point. Don't have the character summarize the whole story; I don't want to know the entire plot on the first page unless it's a one shot or a short story. Instead, you could return to the beginning of the plot at that point. What kind of beginning did that character have? From this point, you could start with their birth (normal, abnormal? What's normal/abnormal about it?) or you could start a day before/the day of the craziness starting. Do they have any friends/allies? How about enemies/rivals? Innocent-but important-bystanders? Important older/wiser type figure? Introduce any extremely important characters soon-ish, unless they aren't important for a while. Maybe the main character meets them later on in the story, in which case you shouldn't introduce them immediately. XD The antagonist *could* come in to the story early, but he/she/it doesn't have to. In my first book, there are two antagonists. One is introduced in chapter 1, but the other isn't revealed until the last few chapters of the book. It should start out somewhat average, but don't make it boring.
2. Mysterious/cryptic beginning. This is one of my personal favorites. :) I usually start off with a conversation between two or more unidentified people. They have a secretive/cryptic conversation about something relevant to the plot: the "Chosen One," "the enemy is approaching," "We desperately need help," something to that effect. It doesn't HAVE to be one of those; in fact, I strongly encourage you to invent your own. Those three are somewhat overused. The conversation is generally my prologue or first chapter, although it could also be just a part of the first chapter/prologue.* Just to warn you, this idea will only work if you can pull it off. If it's a mediocre or crappy mysterious conversation, it just sounds awful. That was my problem with my first six attempts of using this version. It sounded like garbage when I re-read it. If you want to use this, but you aren't particularly good at writing mystical/cryptic type things, ASK SOMEONE TO HELP YOU. Don't just publish it and cross your fingers.
*I went with that idea for my book. The first half is something I haven't mentioned yet, and the second half is the cryptic conversation.
3. Dream. This is similar to the "cryptic message" style, but instead of the readers reading a conversation, the main character is dreaming. It works well whether they're dreaming about the plot or not. (Plot dream: See themselves at their lowest point, see the final battle, friend death, random moments on quest, it could be anything. Non plot dream: Maybe they're in mortal danger, but not relevant to the plot. Maybe it's a normal dream, but something strange-preferably bad-happens. Again, use your imagination.)*
*This was the first half of my prologue. x)
4. Normal day sequence. I'd suggest not using this one, simply because of how overused it is, but if it's well written, feel free. :3 Basically, the story starts with a normal day for the character. Usually, the normality disintegrates by the end of chapter one, due to the arrival of the antagonist/the call to adventure.
5. ABnormal day sequence. Similar to the normal day. However, the strange stuff starts happening right from the beginning of the chapter. For instance ... "I considered my life to be pretty average. You know how it is; the normal kid who lives in a normal town, goes to a normal school, has normal friends, wears normal clothes and gets normal grades. Pretty simple, right? I thought so, too. I wouldn't exactly call it normal, though, to wake up and see a white owl in a graduation cap, glasses and a scarf sitting on the foot of my bed." Note: This is a PERFECT place to use repetition. The use of the word "normal" over and over kind of makes it clear that this kid has a pretty repetitive life. Nothing changes. It's average, plain old, simple.
6. Special occasion. Maybe the main character lives in a magical world already, or maybe the people of Earth choose one child per year to send to a school for magic. Anything could work, really. Anyways, in a special occasion beginning, it's the day that the one kid is chosen, or maybe it's some sort of magical holiday or something. If you've read the Hunger Games, it's kind of like that. The special occasion does NOT have to be a positive, fun holiday, either. It could be like the reaping-dreaded and hated.
7. This is the last one I'm going to add for now. It's also the hardest to describe ... oh, goodness, how am I going to say this? Well, I guess I'll start by pasting a part of one of my stories into this post. These are the first three paragraphs from my story, "Deathquake."
She could still hear the quake in her mind. The horrible, angry roar of the earth as it shook. The crashing as the rocks came falling into the ravine, falling, falling, falling. The screams of her parents. Her sister's cries of alarm and unbridled terror. The sickening crunch as the boulders hit Anne and Henry Rosegem, crushing them underneath.
She could feel the quake in her mind. The rolling of the ground beneath her feet. The rumbling of stones pouring down the ravine wall towards her. The fingers of Sadie grasping at hers. The dust settling on her hands and face.
She could still see the quake in her mind. The earth shaking, distorting her vision. Her parents tumbling down the side of the ravine. The boulders rolling after them. The tears on Sadie's face, the tears on her own.
See what I did with that? I guess this could be called "Tragedy/remembering something." Be careful with the tragedy, though. If your character's parents die, her new adoptive parents are cruel and unloving and they force her to work, she runs away and is adopted by a powerful, rich, kindly family, that's the basis for a Mary-Sue tragic past. Mary-Sue past = BAD.
I'm not sure how helpful that was ... like I said, please ask questions if you have them.8/16/2012 #4
I just thought of something to add to that. When writing your story, do not, under ANY circumstances, start by giving a detailed (or even not too detailed) description of your character!!!!! Same deal with the setting! You want to leave a little bit up to the imagination of the readers, so you *could* start with a setting description, but I would shy away from that, if at all possible. It's not the best way to start a story. You want to introduce the main character and establish a little bit of the plot (small amount) in one or two chapters, while simultaneously keeping your readers interested. KEEP IT MOVING. It's hard to do (Some published authors even need to work on that ) but if you get it, your story will be FANTASTIC. xD8/16/2012 #5
A lot of people don't think of the end as an important part of a story. It's the last thing, the closing, and so why waste a ton of time on it? I've seen perfectly good stories fall apart at the end because the author rushes the ending. The end is, in fact, one of the most important parts of a story. It's the last thing a person reads, and it sticks in their mind. If you have a great closing, the readers are more likely to suggest it to other people, read other things by you, etc. Make it memorable!
Here are a few different kinds of endings:
Happily-ever-after: Pretty self explanatory; the enemy is killed/imprisoned, and everything turns out great for everyone. Example: Pretty much every fairy tale ever written.
Cliffhanger/unfinished: This could be used as the ending for a single book as well as for part of a series. For a series, the author could end the book with a cliffhanger ending, giving the readers incentive to continue reading the story. It makes people angry, true (sometimes) but it also makes them want to know what happens next. ;) Examples: The first two books in "The Lord of the Rings," The fourth and fifth Star Wars movies.
For the unfinished ending, the author doesn't have everything resolved by the end of the book. Maybe the confrontation of the enemy hasn't even happened yet; the book might end when the protagonist has finally decided to take a stand or something to that affect. I rarely see that one, but it can be VERY effective. Example: The last book in the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini.
Tragic: Another self-explanatory ending. The whole world falls apart around the main character just before the book ends, although sometimes the protagonist comes to some sort of realization that they need to change. Examples: Antigone, Romeo and Juliet.
There are a few other kinds of endings, but I'm not sure how to explain all of them.9/5/2012 #6
For that unfinished ending one, Ingo has a very effective ending as a single book (not in a series). You want to keep reading, even though there's nothing to read.
Addition to my "Kinds of Conflict" part:
Another kind of conflict that I forgot is "Man vs. Supernatural." I can't seem to find anything about it online, but I'm assuming that it's a story where the protagonist is against supernatural creatures: zombies, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, whatever.9/8/2012 #8
I just thought of something to add to that. When writing your story, do not, under ANY circumstances, start by giving a detailed (or even not too detailed) description of your character!!!!! Same deal with the setting! You want to leave a little bit up to the imagination of the readers, so you *could* start with a setting description, but I would shy away from that, if at all possible. It's not the best way to start a story. You want to introduce the main character and establish a little bit of the plot (small amount) in one or two chapters, while simultaneously keeping your readers interested. KEEP IT MOVING. It's hard to do (Some published authors even need to work on that ) but if you get it, your story will be FANTASTIC. xD
What about short stories? If the story was not going to be very long, would it be okay then? Or is it the same?
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