Good fiction can, and has, changed the world. At its best, it captures fundamental human truth. Although fiction books cover a vast array of genres, there are five core elements that the best of them have in common.
1. Strong plot. The plot is the story arc of the book. A strong plot will hook your reader and keep her on the edge of her seat. A solid plot has four major parts:
a. Exposition: Introduces the world, characters and problematic situation(s) of the book
b. Conflict: Follows the journey of the characters as they work toward solving their problems and achieving their goals
c. Climax: The culmination of the characters’ journey, in which they succeed or fail
d. Resolution: The aftermath of the journey
Keep in mind that the higher your stakes are throughout the plot, the more compelling your story will be.
2. Compelling character. While a strong plot will make your book interesting, strong characters will help to make it memorable. The two biggest things to look at when constructing a character are the following:
a. Quirks: Make your characters as realistic and engaging as possible by digging up their flaws, quirks and unique abilities.
b. Character arcs: A strong character will change from the beginning of the book to the end of it as a result of his or her experiences. The best way to track and develop a character’s arc is by keeping track of his or her goals.
—External goals: What the character wants to accomplish in the world
Long-term external goal: “I want to be the CEO of this company someday.”
Short-term external goal: “I want to make a sandwich for lunch.”
—Internal goals: What the character wants to learn on a thematic level
Internal goal: “I want to understand the meaning of life.”
To create a strong character arc, make sure that your characters are making progress toward their goals in every chapter of the book.
3. Vivid setting. The setting (or world) of your book grounds the story and makes it real. Creating strong settings is especially critical in fantastic genres, such as fantasy and science-fiction.
a. Five senses: Go beyond the visual and use all five senses when building your atmosphere.
b. Mechanics: In fantastic genres, define the mechanics of how the world works. What are the political and religious systems? What are the rules of magic? What is the accepted social structure?
4. Resonating theme. The theme is the message that your reader takes away from the book. A theme emerges as a result of the lessons the characters learn from the struggles that they go through. Often, the theme teaches the reader something about human nature. It gives the book depth and resonance.
—Example: A man’s true worth is defined by his actions.
5. Strong style & voice. Finally, excellent fiction is written in a clear and engaging way. You may write your fiction book yourself, or hire a ghostwriter or a writing coach to help you bring your story to life. Strong style and voice includes, among other things:
Writing a strong fiction book usually takes several revisions. Though it is incredibly rewarding in the end, writers sometimes get stuck along the way. A good writing coach will keep you motivated and moving, offering solutions to guide you through the rough patches so that you can see your project through to the end. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact us to find a writing coach and ghostwriter.