Writing a story is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. All the elements fit together to form a picture. With a puzzle, one piece out of place makes it impossible to finish. With a story, one piece out of place hinders cohesiveness and flow.
Multiple components must be included when writing.
- Each scene must have an objective, obstacles, and outcome.
- Character traits, features and actions only serve to move the story along.
- Words and actions express inner conflicts with which the reader can identify.
- Everything physical is a metaphor for what is going on psychologically.
- What the characters do is pivotal to their personalities and motivations.
- Every action has a motivation.
- Dialogue moves the story, creates tension, interests the reader, and reveals character.
These snippets are from my notes taken at conferences and from books. There are many more components not listed here. When I first heard that every element must move the story along, I thought, “I’m writing. I can’t keep all that stuff in my head while I’m writing.”
You’re determining where your character is going, why she/he is going there, and how he/she will overcome the main obstacle to reach a goal. At the same time, you need to be cognizant of the above bullet points.
I was sure that advice was wrong, wrong, wrong. Then, one day it all clicked into place. Just like the pieces of a jigsaw.
You need all the different elements to make up the whole. Some fit together and some don’t. Those that don’t connect smoothly need to be moved or removed. It’s the writer’s job to put the jigsaw together in a way that creates an entire picture. It’s now become second nature for me to put all the pieces in place and think about all the necessary components while writing.
Writing a story can be arduous. When it all clicks into place, though, and your puzzle is complete, there’s an indescribable joy a writer won’t find in any other endeavor.