fiction is an art based
on important principles. Here are five of them:
Character comes before
Just as people still argue over
the proverbial question, Which comes first? The chicken or
writers of fiction argue over what comes first, character or plot?
We Christians know that the
chicken came first, since God directly created the chicken. The egg,
then, comes out of the chicken. The same is true in the best
fiction—the kind of fiction that most impacts lives. The author creates
the character, and the plot then comes out of the character.
Think about the best stories
you’ve read. What comes to mind first—a character or the plot? Most
often, it is a character who remains branded in your memory long after
the plot is forgotten.
Plot evolves out of
What your characters do is your
story. Therefore, before you even begin to write, you must know your
characters—what motivates or drives them. It is out of this knowing
that your story (or plot) will emerge and develop.
Start your story in the
middle of the conflict.
Think about screenplays or
television dramas. The story always opens in the middle of a conflict
or problem. It is the same in fiction. Start your story at a point of
conflict. This immediately captures your readers’ interest and draws
them into the story.
When writing, think of
yourself as a camera.
Stories are not written in
words; they are written in pictures. The mind operates in images, not
words. For example, when I say house, do you see the letters h-o-u-s-e,
or do you see an image of a house, most likely your own? The answer is
Remember that people
read fiction for entertainment.
Don’t preach or moralize. Your
message must be intrinsic to the story, not tacked on.
Keeping these five fiction facts
in mind as you write will help you to craft stronger stories that your
readers will not forget.