At some point in time, everyone wants to try their hand at writing a story. Or if they are more ambitious then, they would go for writing a novel. While being able to pull whole universes out of thin air is, for the most part, a gift – it is not something that cannot be learned. When one decides to sit down and write a story/novel, one needs to remember the five basic rules.
1. Setting – It is important to know where your story is taking place. If it’s a city, make sure you know the layout of the city really well. Or a town. If it’s a place you’ve invented, it gives you more leeway to build the city or town or even village according to your fancy. But ensure that it doesn’t sound unrealistic to the readers. It is equally important to figure out the timeline in which your story is taking place. In case you’re writing about the 80s, instant messaging wouldn’t be available. Unless you want to introduce anachronism. That makes it a whole other story.
2. Character – The next thing you need to keep in mind are your characters. Always know your characters like the back of your hand. It helps to know more about your characters than the material that makes it to the story. This is because your character needs to be three-dimensional people. They cannot be cardboard cutouts. You want your readers to empathize with your character, after all. Don’t you?
3. Goal – Always give your protagonist a goal. It doesn’t matter if they are successful at the end of the story or not. But it’s important they have a goal. For example, in the Harry Potter series, Harry’s ultimate goal is to defeat Lord Voldemort. In all the Famous Five books, the goal of the kids was to figure out who were then smugglers (most of the time).
4. Plot Outline – When you are writing your first book, it’s just too easy to write yourself into a plot hole. The best thing to do is to make a plot outline. This would help you keep your story on track. In fact, it helps to know the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story you are writing. Knowing what happens helps you write a much tighter story, than one which makes you go all over the place. Bear in mind your plot outline should have a setup, a rising action, climax, falling action and finally, resolution. That is the ideal structure of a plot outline.
5. The Ending – This brings us to the most important part of it all, the ending. Even when you are just thinking about the story you are writing, it’s important to know how it ends. If you don’t know how your story ends, chances are you will keep writing and writing, and it’ll never end. If it’s a romance, be sure to know if the guy finally gets the girl. Or does the girl choose herself over everything? If it’s a murder mystery, know who the murderer is at the onset of the story. If it’s a horror story, know if the ghost wins or the humans win from the start. It is super important to know how your story would end, which is unrealistic in real life and one of the major rules of the fiction world.
In case you are planning on attempting your first story/novel, good luck. We hope this checklist helps you. If you feel we have missed anything do let us know in the comments below.