Since I’ve been away, I’ve been thinking of what makes a story great. What makes me want to turn the page and not stop until I get to the end? What makes me daydream about it long after I’ve put it down? And what makes me want to run out and purchase other books from the author? Well, those are tough to answer. There aren’t any right or wrong answers. What I like is my personal preference. It may differ greatly from what someone else likes. Nevertheless, there are certain elements of a book that cannot be compromised.
What are they?
Character Development – This is the most important element of the book - in my opinion. Great characters can make up for some of the other things that may be lacking in the story. Some…not all. The characters must be three-dimensional. Think: Stephanie Meyers character “Wanda” from The Host. Larry Brooks provides a great article about character development at his blog, Story Fix.
Setting – The setting (where your story takes place) can be like another character in your book. If done correctly. The setting should be rich and make the reader feel that they are there with the characters. Think: James Cameron's, Avatar (I know its not a book but it was great). A great article on settings can be found at The Storytellers Unplugged.
Villains – Now this is where I think some writers goof. They don’t spend enough time developing the villain. Now the villain does not have to be a live person. It can be nature, societal pressures, friends, relatives, or even the protagonist can be his/her own villain. Get creative, treat the villain like a real character, and make them three-dimensional too. Think: James Patterson’s character, The One who is the One, Witch and Wizard. I thought I’d direct you to an earlier post by me for the villain – here.
Pacing- This is another area (for me) that makes or breaks a novel. Don’t give away too much or you’ll lose your audience. But don’t make me wait until the last line of the book to start getting answers to questions. Think: Edward and Bella’s romance in Twilight. Janice Hardy over at The Other Side of the Story has a great article up about pacing.
If any of these things are off in the story, I can’t continue to read. It throws me off. What do you like most in a story? What do you barely pay attention to in the story? What do you think? Do these things make you want to continue reading also if done properly? Or are there other things that you look for?
Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.