Everyone loves a pithy list, right? I’ve written a couple of them, myself. This list of six essentials for fiction writers originally appeared in the Indie Writers Unite Facebook group in a discussion that asked the questions, “Are your stories plot based or character based? Which do you prefer writing?”
My short answer was that the question presented a false dichotomy — that both are essential and interwoven. As the discussion went on, I came up with a list of six essentials fiction writers must address with equal priority. Ignore any of these — favor one over another — and the work will suffer.
I want to bring the list to a larger audience and open the discussion to you, dear reader. So here we go:
Six Essentials For Fiction Writers
- Conflict: Two people are thirsty and there’s one glass of water.
- Plot: What do they do to get the glass of water?
- Character: Why do they do what they do?
- Theme: What does the expression of conflict, plot and character say about the human experience?
- Publication / Marketing: Who experiences the work?
- Art: What emotions are inspired by the work, and do they match the author’s intention?
I believe that all of these elements are equally essential… and that the work that comes after the writing is just as important as the writing.
Yes, publication and marketing are part of being an author: to call the work complete, it must be experienced by someone other than its creator.
Emphasize any of these elements above the others, and your fiction will be less than it can be.
Is it difficult to balance all the essential elements, and to do each one well?
Absolutely. It’s certainly something I struggle with. But it’s necessary. Nothing worthwhile is without challenges, right?
How Well Are You Addressing The Six Essentials For Fiction Writers?
Where are your strengths and weaknesses with regard to these essential elements? Do you think I’m on to something here, or do you disagree? Let’s talk about it in the comments section!