Friday, January 20, 2012

13 Elements of a Good Story

Many elements go into making a book  lovable and memorable. The reason we like  some books and  dislike  others  is not just because  of the writing style or the story, but for several other reasons.  I have read many not so great books only because I found the characters worthy of following. Unfortunately these characters were caught in a not so great story. Many other books  I  have read because I liked the way  the plot  twists  kept me on tenterhooks, though I disliked the language and  the writing style was ordinary.

For a book to make the cut, many elements must fall into place. The ones that instantly come to mind, I have listed below.

1.      A  Strong  Protagonist: who beckons the reader into his/her story and  makes them follow him/her page after page. The protagonist has to be likeable and has to have a few redeeming qualities which would make a reader chase him /her through the story. 

2.      A Powerful Antagonist:  who evokes  immense dislike from the readers. An antagonist so vile that to see the antagonist fall readers will stay awake the entire night to turn the pages.    
3.      A Unique, Original, and Amazing Setting that makes the readers take an amazing journey into a previously unchartered territory. Settings take time to create, but they are well worth the effort.

4.      An Engrossing Conflict that sucks the readers in its grip.

5.      Unexpected Twists and Turns of the Story: keeps the readers engrossed.

6.      A  Generous Sprinkling of  Romance: brings a smile on the readers’ faces and makes their hearts flutter.

7.      Heart Tugging Emotions: very  crucial for the emotional connection with the readers.

8.      Rounded, Peripheral Characters : they help in  pushing the story forward.

9.      Atleast two Strong  Subplots that Intersect the Main Plot:  this can involve the peripheral characters and  is extremely crucial to break the monotony if the main plot slackens.

10.  A Gripping  Plot: packed with racy scenes that add tension and make it a page    turner.

11.  Awesome Writing Style: full of vivid and unusual descriptions that tease the senses.

12.  Wonderful Dialogues or as I prefer to call them Conversation Pieces that are remembered long after the book has been put down.

13.  A Great Resolution ; preferably a Happily Ever After or a resolution that leaves the readers satisfied with the way the story has ended.

Do you think there are other elements that I have overlooked? Is there any other element that is crucial?  Please share with us. Not only are we keen to hear about it, we can also add it into our next manuscript and perhaps get close to writing an awesome book.

P.S. I suddenly realized that Friday had crept up on me and I had not written a post. So, I cheated by reposting an older post with a few changes. Hope cheating is allowed once in a while. 


  1. I think a litle humour, even when tackling the most serious subjects, can keep things from getting too stuffy.

    Moody Writing

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  3. This is worth one full "How to" book on writing. I think this is going to be a good scale I could use if I ever venture into writing a novel.
    Mooderino is right about Humore, that is something I don't want to miss out either.

  4. Good list Rachna. Your #8 is the best for me--strong character development makes or breaks a book.

  5. The generic rules very thoughtfully compiled!

  6. Love this list, Rachna. #12 is my favorite. Probably because I love writing dialogue so much. I write too much on first drafts and always have to go back in and take a lot of dialogue out.

    I might have seen this on your earlier post. But it was worth a reread. Happy weekend. :-)

  7. Hi friends..I can't believe I forgot humour. Personally, I love adding humour, more often than not in a subtle way in my descriptions and dialogues.

  8. Good stuff, Rachna! Nice to have it all summarized in one post.
    Have a good weekend,

  9. Wow, that's a lot of requirements! I just look at the cover--jk.
    I need most of those to stay with a book, certainly.

    And cheating is totally allowed.

  10. Great list!

    I'm bookmarking this post to refer to again in the future. :)

  11. Sub plots are essential to a great story, yet tricky to write. I used a quasi-love affair between the good guy and the antagonist's girlfriend that lingers and won't go away until the story nears its end. This provides for a great sub plot and some conflict anfd tension along the way.

  12. Love the list and you did a great job. The one thing I might add is the use of internal dialogue to spark morality/belief questions in both the reader and the character. I love stories that can do that for me. A greater depth of story is achieved at that point, if you ask me. That said, I've noticed that I will continue reading with a lot of these. However, if the villain comes off as too villainy at the beginning, I get turned off. For me, I prefer beginning with someone I love. If I begin with someone I hate, it's like that transfers to the book and I can't continue. I suddenly hate the book and have no reason to continue.

  13. Most of my writing these days doesn't have antagonists; I have my central character(s) emersed in a confluence of circumstances that form the plot and story...I can only hope that those ingredients fall together into an interesting mix :). Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

  14. Looks good. I like transitions from the ordinary to the extraordinary. The story happens in the extraordinary. But real characters are rooted in the ordinary.

    What would Twilight be like if she never found out about vampires and werewolves?

    Where would Star Wars be if Luke never left the desert planet of Tatooine?

    How boring would Breaking Bad be if the guy never got cancer and turned to a life of cooking meth?

  15. For plot-driven stories, this is right on the money, Rachna. :)

  16. Cheating is allowed! You always write such informative posts!

  17. I don't see it as cheating at all!!

    This is a great post that covers all the points. Love it!

  18. informative as always!

    Rachna you need to write a book on how to write!Basically a compilation of your blog posts.

  19. Cheating is totally allowed. :)

    I think you hit all the basics on the head! These are all the things I look for in a great book.

  20. Oh, great list! Emotional pull is definitely a must.

  21. You should write a film script...Such wonderful tips here. As always.

  22. Recently got to know your blog through a recommendation from another blog:
    and I'm so glad I found your blog! :) Great posts! Thanks for the treasure trove of tips, advice and views.

  23. I actually prefer some part of my antagonist to be likable. I actually don't meet many people in real life who are so terrible that I want to see them fall, but I've met some that are otherwise good and then make poor choices.

    Those people can make good antagonists, too, because then we think "If only they understood, they could be on the protagonist's side! They don't have to fall!"