As children in the playground we learned pretty quickly what might happen if we didn’t follow the rules. We heard “You can’t play with us!” “Freak!” or, sometimes, we even ended up with blood-stained shirts. The group had its code and woe betide the brave boy or girl who thought to break it.
Now we’ve grown up and our playground is the world, but there are still rules. Especially for writers. We have a titanic iceberg with very slippery slopes to climb if we want to get published. Fortunately, countless books on writing and the Internet, itself, are awash with suggestions on how to do this. Here is the structure (set of rules) to use for your novel.
Five Essential Elements in Your Novel
1. Your characters must have motivation, be in some kind of conflict, which results in a great tension.
2. An inciting incident must serve as the catalyst to get your plot moving and your readers interested.
3. A story question such as “Will Scarlett survive the war and find happiness? is essential and, of course, self-centered Scarlett has an epiphany. She finally realizes she must rely on herself and finds the strength to do this.
4. And this is all leading up to a black moment, a climax for the main character in your novel. If we don’t give these characters supreme hardships, there is nothing to keep the reader’s interest and nothing to overcome. We readers love to cheer our heroes from the sidelines as they swashbuckle their demons.
5. And win! That’s the satisfying ending we are all looking for when we start the book. The protagonist must grow as he or she conquers challenges to become a better, happier or smarter person. And the ending must answer the readers’ questions without becoming long-winded and, dare I say it?, boring.
Well, loosely, those are the rules for writing your novel, folks. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
What is the thing you look for when you read novels? Do you actually have a list like the above or do you concentrate on making a good story and just trust you’ll automatically include the five essential elements? Consider leaving a comment below with your own suggestions. Readers, tell us what you love about your favorite novels.