The Craft of Writing Fiction: How To Tell A Story (Part 1)

Telling a story involves a lot of what we’ve covered in past articles, like setting, characters, and plot.  However, crafting a story is something that many are unable to do well and there are many ways this could be helped.  There are some cases, though, when being unable to craft a story is something that can’t be corrected. Yet, aspiring writers have to know the art of a story or else there will be nothing put on paper and their work could be full of inconsistencies or plot holes or unreadable.  

Now, we’ve mentioned this before, but there are different types of fiction.  There are literary works and genre fiction and in the case of the former, there is sometimes less of a story and more of a focus on characters or a commentary.  Yet, both will take the reader somewhere.

Image from Everstring.com

Genre fiction is going to be more fast-paced and follow traditional story rules like conflicts or clear protagonists/antagonists or formulaic stories.  Like with Romance novels or Mystery novels, there are always similar traits to these books. Yet, that’s not always the case with literary fiction.

Most times, literary fiction, will move at a slower pace and have less of a traditional story, but can be more of a collection of snapshots in a character’s life.   We may know more about a character or their past or struggles they are facing but there may be no real conflict or common tropes that are found in genre fiction.

Understanding, though, that there is still a message or story in genre fiction will make it come alive, rather than just a play-by-play of someone’s day or life.  While someone may have had amazing experiences or a unique tale, there has to be some progression in the story in literary fiction. Overly artistic and flowery language, in-depth description, or commentary on issues in the character’s life can be great, but it can bog down the reader and hurt the story.

Next week, we’ll look at some classical aspects of storytelling.