The Five Main Story Elements

story.elements.novel.writingEach and every existing story on this earth has elements, Which are commonly known as story elements.

There are certain things every reader looks out for while reading a novel and no, I’m not trying to talk about common tropes like trolls, elves or dwarves! I’m simply trying to bring your attention to general concepts and much broader elements that’ll open you to be more imaginative and inventive as you wish to have an amazing story penned down. These elements commonly known as the five main story elementswhich include the plot or magic system, the setting, the character, conflict, and resolution. Before you can boast of writing an amazing fantasy novel, it’s important for you to consider these story elements.

Without further fuss, let’s consider these story elements coupled with examples of how they have been used in some novels.

5 important story elements every novel Needs

The first story element: “The plot or magic system”

The important story element that distinguishes fantasy fiction from other class of novels is the plot of the story. This literary term is the major key that is used to describe the events that constitute the main party of a story, or the story generally as a whole. These events are interrelated with each other in a sequence or pattern. The organizations of events in a story’s plot will depend on how the story will be structured.

A lot of writers prefer to tag a plot as the foundation of any story or novel, around which other important elements; settings and characters are built. As an author planning to write a novel, it’s of high importance that you ensure that the plot does not dominate the other aspects of your story. Let’s consider the plot of one of J.K Rowling favorite novels;

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (By J. K. Rowling)

Of all the examples known to authors and writers on a plot in modern literature writing, the novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone continues to retain the top spot considering how familiar it is to moviegoers and readers. The plot of the novel starts reflecting when Harry discovered that Snape was aiming for the Sorcerer’s Stone. The professor instructs his trolls to go after Harry and his friends until they are dead. Also, Hagrid’s move to acquire a Dragon was revealed to Harry after finding that the secret of the giant dog had been made known to a stranger, meaning the Professor is a step closer to getting the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The Second story element: “A well-developed and classic setting”

Another vital element every fantasy fiction story needs is a setting that is well-developed. The only way that you can immerse the readers if you’re writing in this genre is to make sure that your setting is developed thoughtfully and thoroughly.

The process is also known as world-building. The setting of the novel Lord Of the Rings written by J. R. R. Tolkien was created in a beautiful way such that everything from history to societal customs to lore and language was explored. The profound author is still considered till date as the original world-builder, judging with the details and depth adapted to create his wonderful novels.

Here’s a quick one for you; trying to compare your settings or world-building ideas to a creative author or masters like Christopher or Tolkien would only make you get intimidated. Do not forget that most of these novels were created from their experiences and life’s work which took them several years to develop. As an author trying to get the perfect setting for your novel, you’re greatly advised to build your creative world from the ground up and make it conform to the standard which you’re planning to create for your novel.

The Third Story Element: “A cast presenting complex characters”

As it is with every novel, fictional or romance or horror, what gets to the readers, making them stay onto the novel for long are the characters. Your magic system, plot, and setting might engage and intrigue the readers, but any of these story elements will not matter if your readers aren’t moved by the characters and their individual outcomes.

You’re going to determine the number of characters you want in your story, but if you’ve resolved to create a series, computing a cast of several characters is the best; both main and auxiliary characters. This creates diversity and sense of interest in the story, convincing the readers to have your story to its end.

However, you might need to encourage your readers’ empathy and also sharpen their focus by considering one ‘main or standout’ character, with whom your readers will attach their selves to throughout the story or for the major part. On the flip side, if you’re planning on an extra complex story, then your cast of characters need to be complex and large as well. This may require you to present more than one main character.

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas can be presented as a good example of this technique. At the start, Celaena was shown to be the main character, but as the series grew in complexity and scope, the characters expanded into multiple viewpoints.

Irrespective of the method or technique you resolve to, the most important thing is to create flawed, realistic, believable, complex and relatable characters. Even if you decide to write a novel in the fantasy world, your characters still need to be stationed and developed as if they are real within the narrative.

Also, it’s important that you steer clear of cliche when writing on fantasy characters. Certain fantasy tropes, such as the old wise mentor/wizard, the chosen farm boy, and the likes should be avoided unless you’re willing to breathe originality into these types of character.

The Fourth Story Element: “A central conflict”

Every good story is known to have a perfect conflict without this important story element your story cannot become juicy. This is important in cases where the stakes for your characters are on the high side, especially in fantasy fiction stories. Here are some types of conflict that can be explored within a story to make it perfect:

  • Small-scale conflict that is been experienced between characters
  • Large-scale conflict whereby a powerful external force is up against your characters
  • Inner conflict that is experienced by the characters

Having an overwhelming central conflict within your fiction fantasy novel is of great importance, irrespective of the fact that these conflicts highlighted above are of great importance.

A great example is found in The Harry Potter series, while each section has been designed with its internal conflicts, the series as a whole places its focus around one central conflict; that between Voldemort the evil Lord and Harry. This central conflict acts a key holding the seven volumes of the series in one piece and continues to move the story forward all the time.

The Fifth Story Element: Resolution

Coiled from the French word dénouement(to untie), denouement or resolution simply explains the concluding part of a story’s plot. The concluding part of a story is where all loose ends are tied or where all unanswered questions are provided answers to. A novel that has been written with a complete and good ending or concluding part is said to have a strong or perfect resolution.

Let’s quickly consider one of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s ending in one of his interesting novels; Crime and Punishment. This novel’s ending is still considered as one of the most straightforward and classic examples of what a perfect resolution should look like; giving the reader an insight that the story has come to an end. Resolution basically ends a story without leaving the reader unsatisfied or confused.

“But this marks the start of a new story- the story of the gradual regeneration and renewal of man, going from one world to another, to a new unknown life. This might be presented as the subject of a new story, but here’s where we end ours”

Hope this article helped you to understand the important aspects of story elements.