Neil Gaiman was once asked what quote would he put on the wall of a public library children’s area. He said, “… and then what happened?” To remind people of the power of stories, and why they exist in the first place. Questions are one of a writers’ greatest tools. Not just to ask what happens next in your story, but also to gain a deeper understanding of your characters, their motivations, their back stories, the setting and the plot. Asking questions can help both fiction and non-fiction.
Every story needs a protagonist, antagonist and conflict. Ideally these are set in a suitable location and the story has something unique or an unexpected twist.
Also known as the hero or main character. It is their needs, desires or problems that usually drive the story.
The hero’s adversary or opposition. Often their needs or desires are the opposite of what the hero wants, adding to the conflict in the story. The antagonist doesn’t have to be another character. It can be a natural disaster, an event the hero doesn’t want to face, illness, war, etc.
Without conflict you start with a happily ever after, continue with one and end with one. Conflict doesn’t have to be explosions, shootouts or arguments. It can be someone struggling to walk again after an accident, the loss of a job and trying to survive when faced with mounting debt and the fear of homelessness, someone undermining the protagonist at work or school, or trying to reach a destination when everything seems to be preventing the protagonist’s arrival.
Setting can add to a story. In some books it is almost another character. It can also add more conflict or put obstacles in the way of the protagonist.
This needs to be a logical conclusion, but if well done, an unexpected one.
Avril Sabine is an Australian author who has been writing since she was a young child and wanted to be an author the moment she realised someone wrote the books she loved to read. Avril is the author of more than seventy titles, including the young adult series, Dragon Blood.