Wouldn’t you like to know the basic components of fiction?
Here’s what you need:
A well-written plot, good characters, and a basic understanding of how a story progresses from point A to point B using a tried-and-true story structure.
But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Let’s start at the very beginning.
How to Get Started
So, you’ve decided to bite the bullet and become a writer. You’ve also found the perfect platform to write for.
Now what do you write and do you know how to get started?
If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, then you know how I felt when I was just starting out with writing fiction.
I didn’t know where to start.
Sure, I loved reading about fiction but I could never bring myself to write a good fictional book. Oh, I’ve tried. Hundreds of times. Probably over a thousand times. But have I released one?
Oh no, no, no, no, no.
I have some ideas written down on paper or saved on my computer but I’ve never really tried to release anything fictional. My career was actually built on writing articles for the web.
It took me a couple of years before I finally said I wanted to write a book, a fictional story but in order to do that, I needed to study creative writing. Most of you would probably not agree.
“If you have it, then you have it” that’s what most people say about talent and creativity. I come from a different school of thinking. I believe hard work, studying the subject, and consistency trumps talent and creativity all the time.
But then again, that’s just me.
Come Up with a Basic Story Idea
Sounds pretty simple, right?
That is until someone tells you to come up with something that’s entirely original. Yep, 100% original.
Let’s see you scramble your brains on that one.
Don’t worry about it.
There’s almost zero percent chance you’ll come up with something 100% original.
I sound like a jaded writer.
But it’s true.
Almost everything has been written about. Stories coming out today are basically clones of older stories remodeled, refitted, and rehashed to sound fresh and new.
So why write anything if that’s the case?
You write because you want to write. You write because you need to write. And in the process, you’ll eventually stumble on something that’s fresh. You’ll hit on something that you can develop as your own idea and create something no one’s read about yet.
If someone’s already written about it, use their idea as a jumping off point and create something on par or better.
And never forget to thank them in the liner notes for “inspiring” you. I mean, give credit where credit is due, ok?
Anyway, the basic story idea can be something as simple as “Jack Kills the Giant”.
Since there have been countless stories of Jack killing the giant, you can develop your basic story idea further by tweaking the main concept into Jack killing the giant with a futuristic weapon or the giant an alien that Jack accidentally kills and what happens after.
The possibilities are endless.
My story idea about this that I might release in the future is about Jack getting framed for killing the giant by another more malicious Jack. The story includes testimonies from old favorite childhood stories about how Jack is innocent.
Think that’s a good idea?
Steal it from me.
Now on to character creation.
Character Creation and Development
Good stories are character-driven. Good characters are defined by their actions. How they react to certain stimuli gives the audience better insight into the character’s personality. All these things lead to memorable stories and characters.
You’d want people to remember your stories, right?
Okay, if that’s not much of an incentive, memorable stories sell for a long time. They also rack up earnings through royalties over time. That’s something to keep in mind.
So do your story justice by creating characters people can relate to. Think of this process as creating individual moneymakers that will sell your story.
Of course, you can also write your characters well for personal satisfaction. Either way, it benefits the story as a whole.
3 Types of Characters:
There are 3 types of characters, the protagonist, the antagonist, and the foil. These roles are interchangeable and rely heavily on your decision-making process. Sometimes, who you thought was going to be your protagonist eventually becomes your antagonist or even the foil.
This is the main character. The reason why there’s a book in the first place. He’s the character to whom we deliver the stimulus and record his reaction for the audience to read. His struggles and his journey from point A to point B are what define the book.
Harry Potter, throughout the Harry Potter series, remained the main focal point of the stories. This gave something for readers to latch on to and kind of became the unifying theme throughout all the books.
We see him struggle from being an orphan living under the stairs to a well-accomplished wizard and ultimately an adult. I hope I haven’t spoiled anything for anyone.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to the Harry Potter series:
For the Paperback edition, this is the link to the Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)
If you want the Hardcover edition, this is the link to the Harry Potter Hardcover Boxed Set: Books 1-7 (Slipcase)
More interested in Audiobooks? Here’s the link to the Harry Potter 1- 7 Audio Collection Audio CD – Unabridged
Or you could simply buy the videos. Here’s the link: Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection
Oh yeah, I’m an Amazon Associate and here’s a disclaimer:
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
This is the anti-hero. Fleshing this character out well is the key to creating a really good story. How well you develop the character ultimately serves the story well by making your readers root for both the protagonist and the antagonist.
The antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be evil. He just has to provide a source of conflict for your protagonist to react to in order for the plot to develop further. The greater the conflict, the greater the response, the better the story.
So, in the case of Harry Potter, Voldemort acts as the antagonist throughout the series. Please note that he is not the only antagonist in the story. In fact, there are multiple antagonists in the book series.
Foils are the NPCs (Non-Player characters for those who can relate) in your book. They’re basically there to populate the world your protagonist and antagonist live in. They also serve as characters that bring out the best or worst out of your protagonist and antagonist.
Although they may not always be present in the scenes where your protagonist is, try to develop the characters as much as you can because they can serve a purpose in your future stories.
Think Hermione and Ron to Harry Potter or Bellatrix and Nagini to Voldemort.
One of the first things I do when I write a book is flesh out my characters. I usually start with their names and basic characteristics before delving deeper and creating a backstory for them. Each character is saved on a different index card or word file for future reference.
Any character development is also saved for continuity.
Sometimes, because I concentrate on creating these characters, the ones I initially thought would be my protagonist eventually become the antagonist or a foil.
In parting, what I’m really trying to say is this: Take the time to develop your characters.
Exploring the Basic Story Structure
Okay, now we get to the part where we explore how the basic story structure works. Before we go any further, brace yourself for some very bad image editing done by yours truly.
Yes, I’m that bad as a graphic illustrator and I’m already using Canva which is supposed to give anyone good pictures regardless of image editing skill level.
You can employ the basic story structure as a whole to your book where chapter 1 starts at the setup and the end chapter is the resolution or you can have basic story structures running all throughout your book to chop things up into smaller, digestible parts.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the first part of your basic story structure: the setup.
The setup as I like to call it is where introductions are generally made. This is where you as a writer paint the scene for the reader to have in their mind’s eye. This is where you establish who your protagonist is, his backstory, motivations, anything to make him known to the reader.
The setup can be done throughout your book. This basically sets the tone of your book and is the make-or-break part where you try your hardest to capture your readers’ attention and hold it there.
You don’t need to lay everything out in the first chapter. You can introduce your character as the story progresses.
The only thing you should remember is this: always start with a good setup.
Okay, now that everyone has a slight idea as to who your protagonist is, it’s time to get them moving into action. Which brings us to the inciting incident.
The inciting incident basically takes your protagonist and thrusts them into action.
You can do this as subtly or as blatantly as you can. Really good storytelling has a way of creating inciting incidents that make readers believe that what the protagonist does after is something they would also do.
This is going to be the longest part of your structure because you keep on building this part to move the plot forward.
Now that your protagonist is given a situation will he take action a or b? what are the consequences of his actions? It’s also time to go back to setting up the antagonist. The foils.
Tell the story of your character through his actions. This is what makes your readers relate to them.
You just keep building this portion of your story structure until everything comes to a head and bang!
Pause for dramatic effect and move on to the next chapter.
And this is the reward your readers get for sticking with your book’s narrative. It brings everything together.
Try to keep your climax towards the end of the book.
No one really likes climaxing in the middle and having to deal with a lengthy falling action and resolution portion.
Just hold off until the very end. But keep it interesting.
After climaxing, allow your reader to drift slowly back down to the ground with interesting things that happen after the explosive end. You can treat this as a setup for your resolution.
This is equally as important as your rising action as cutting the story abruptly after climaxing is just plain rude… as with everything else.
A lot of the books I grew up reading featured extended-resolution sections which is ok if you’re targeting really young readers or teens. Sometimes some people don’t like resolutions at the end so that they can come up with their own endings and what happened.
Treat this section as an area where you can reveal whatever you want and then leave the rest as a cliffhanger for your next book.
Personally, I like a good resolution. It brings the story to a close and helps make it stand alone even if it is in a series.
Developing Your Plot
Okay, now that you understand the value of having memorable characters and the elements involved in a basic story structure and their importance, it’s time to develop your plot.
And this is all I really have to say on that matter: a good plot needs a good conflict.
Your characters will provide the conflict. If you’ve developed them to the point where you believe they’re real, then you have characters that will stand the test of time.
Think of This as a General Guideline
Now don’t make me create a disclaimer saying the thoughts and views expressed by the writer are solely his and blah blah blah. I don’t have a degree in creative writing. What I shared with you is what I’ve learned from others and from personal observations.
Think of this as a general guideline. A crash course introducing the basic components of fiction in a more digestible manner.
At the end of the day, there isn’t any clear-cut rule as to how your story should be structured.
The beauty of being a writer is that in your book, you are God. You create what you want, tell the story how you like it, structure it however you please, and present it to your readers in a manner that agrees with you most.
You may write for personal or financial reasons and it’s okay. If your book sells, then congratulations. If it doesn’t, at least you have one book in your pocket that you can say you’ve written and perhaps use as a tool to further improve.
Write to satisfy yourself first. There’s a lot of joy one can derive from writing their own stories. Bringing your imagination to life through words is a great form of mental exercise. Think of it as making the intangible, tangible.
Money will come afterward if people believe how genuine you are in your pursuit of your passion.
Or, if you’re really willing to sell your soul a little, learn how to write sexy werewolf, vampire, or billionaire stories. People lap it up like a kitten with a dish of milk.
(You know why I know? I’ve ghost-written a few and earned a nice lump of change. I’m actually in the process of writing a few books under my name this time and not as a ghostwriter. Hmmm… “Ghost” writer… that sounds like a good idea…)
And then use the money you earn to finance your dream project which is going to be your “real” book.
Will AI Spell the End for Writers?
I actually thought that would be the case back when I first discovered how frighteningly fast and efficient AI is in generating answers when you input search queries. But I don’t think that’s the case just yet.
AI still needs human input to generate answers. It can’t really think on its own yet. It’s close to it but not nearly human enough.
Nothing beats the human mind when it comes to creativity and verifying the veracity of the information presented to them.
Can I Write My Novel Using ChatGPT?
You can but do you really want to do that? Would you be able to legitimately call it your own novel if the majority of it was just copy-pasted to create your “book”. There are moral ethics one needs to consider before doing that.
What I would suggest though is to use AI as a tool to generate ideas. And then build from there. Don’t be a lazy writer and pass off AI-generated content as your own work. Personally, I still think that it still falls under plagiarism.
Where Can I Earn Money Writing Books?
I’ve published 2 books on Amazon and continue to earn from that. The royalties aren’t that big. I’m not a wealthy man yet but it’s something that keeps me from having empty pockets. Alternatively, there are a lot of writing platforms that now offer to pay writers for their works.
In the future, we’ll post some good platforms to earn money from on this website. We just have to work the kinks out and make sure it is beneficial to all our members.
Our advice: do your research and find out which one works best and sign up with them.
Oh, but before you do that, go write a book.