Hello everybody and welcome to another blog post! Last time we focused on my motivations for writing both this blog and in general. This time we will be diving into some introductory knowledge of fiction writing.
The most important thing you need to know about writing, and by extension every other art-form, is that it is not a science. You cannot throw the most successful novels into a pot, boil away everything but what makes them good and use those to make an objectively good story of your own. There is no perfect method, there is no list of steps you can follow to make a guaranteed classic, you CANNOT prove whether or not a story is good. This is something I may dive into further in a later post, as much can be said to further elaborate why such is true; but for now, it is relegated to a mere paragraph. I say this here because it is important to keep in mind that everything I have written here and likely everything after requires a saltshaker at the ready. If someone tells you they know how to make a definitive masterpiece with no chance of failure, they are lying to you and themselves. Everything stated here on out may have an exception, but that proves/disproves nothing. With art, nothing is provably anything.
A vital element to storytelling is plot: the order in which the events of a story occur. Regardless of your intentions or the quality of your work, your story has a plot. Even if the events that unfold have no causation linking them, a reader can still list the events of your story in the order they happened and that will be your plot. This ultimately has little to do with the nature of storytelling and everything to do with the nature of perception. Humans evolved to perceive time and thus we naturally apply this perception to anything and everything. Plot is in essence a story’s version of time.
Similar to plot, setting is an unavoidable characteristic of storytelling. Even if your tale takes place in a void outside of time and space, it is still taking place somewhere. Setting is simply the time and place in which a story occurs. An eighteenth century village in Ireland, a futuristic city built on a satellite in space, and a void outside of time and space are all settings. There is no such thing as the best setting and a bad setting is pretty much impossible. It is what you do with that setting that matters.
This is my personal favorite fundamental aspect of storytelling and in my opinion the most important to execute well. Characters are the entities that exist within a story to both experience the events within and take part in influencing how they unfold. This is in no way relegated to people; a dog, lizard, or even a rock can be counted as characters. Why do I value this aspect so much though? In essence, characters are the connective tissue between the readers and the story. A story can have a great setting and plot, but if the characters do not engage the reader and make them invested, the setting and plot may as well be as boring as a phone book.
I will further elaborate on each of these topics in later posts (Character especially). But for now, I will leave you with my brief take on each aspect’s importance. The ways they can be utilized, the commonly used types and examples of such will each get their own individual post.