This article is about writing fiction prose. For fiction as a concept, see fiction.
Fiction writing is any kind of writing that is not factual. Fictional writing most often takes the form of a story meant to convey an author's point of view or simply to entertain. The result of this may be a short story, novel, novella, screenplay, or drama, which are all types (though not the only types) of fictional writing styles.
Just as a painter uses color and line to create a painting, an author uses the elements of fiction to create a story:
The elements of fiction are: character, plot, setting, theme, and style. Of these five elements, character is the who, plot is the what, setting is the where and when, and style is the how of a story.
A character is any person, persona, identity, or entity whose existence originates from a fictional work or performance.
A plot, or storyline, is the rendering and ordering of the events and actions of a story, particularly towards the achievement of some particular artistic or emotional effect.
Setting is the time and location in which a story takes place.
Theme is the broad idea, message, or lesson of a story.
Style includes the multitude of choices fiction writers make, consciously or subconsciously, as they create a story. They encompass the big-picture, strategic choices such as point of view and narrator, but they also include the nitty-gritty, tactical choices of grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence and paragraph length and structure, tone, the use of imagery, chapter selection, titles, and on and on. In the process of writing a story, these choices meld to become the writer's voice, his or her own unique style.
Characterization is one of the five elements of fiction, along with plot, setting, theme, and writing style. A character is a participant in the story, and is usually a person, but may be any persona, identity, or entity whose existence originates from a fictional work or performance.
Characters may be of several types:
Point-of-view character: the character by whom the story is viewed. The point-of-view character may or may not also be the main character in the story.
Antagonist: the character who stands in opposition to the protagonist
Minor character: a character that interacts with the protagonist. They help the story move along.
Foil character: a (minor) character who has traits in aversion to the main character
The plot, or storyline, is the rendering and ordering of the events and actions of a story.
On a micro level, plot consists of action and reaction, also referred to as stimulus and response. On a macro level, plot has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Plot is often depicted as an arc with a zig-zag line to represent the rise and fall of action. *Freytag's Pyramid is also another way to represent action in a novel.
The climax of the novel consists of a single action-packed sentence in which the conflict (problem) of the novel is resolved. This sentence comes towards the end of the novel. The main part of the action should come before the climax.
Plot also has a mid-level structure: scene and sequel. A scene is a unit of drama—where the action occurs. Then, after a transition of some sort, comes the sequel—an emotional reaction and regrouping, an aftermath.
Setting is the locale and time of a story. The setting is often a real place, but may be a fictitious city or country within our own world; a different planet; or an alternate universe, which may or may not have similarities with our own universe. Sometimes setting is referred to as milieu, to include a context (such as society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story.
Theme is what the author is trying to tell the reader. For example, the belief in the ultimate good in people, or that things are not always what they seem. The moral of the story, if you will.
Style includes the multitude of choices fiction writers make, consciously or not, in the process of writing a story. It encompasses not only the big-picture, strategic choices such as point of view and choice of narrator, but also tactical choices of grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence and paragraph length and structure, tone, the use of imagery, chapter selection, titles, etc. In the process of creating a story, these choices meld to become the writer's voice, his or her own unique style.
Components of style
For each piece of fiction, the author makes many choices, consciously or subconsciously, which combine to form the writer's unique style. The components of style are numerous, but include point of view, choice of narrator, fiction-writing mode, person and tense, grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence length and structure, paragraph length and structure, tone, imagery, chapter usage, and title selection.
The narrator is the teller of the story, the orator, doing the mouthwork, or its in-print equivalent.
Point of View
Point of view is from whose consciousness the reader hears, sees, and feels the story.
Tone is the mood that the author establishes within the story.
Suspension of Disbelief
Suspension of disbelief is the reader's temporary acceptance of story elements as believable, regardless of how implausible they may seem in real life.