So far in the Art Of Writing we’ve looked at structure, outlining and characters. In this article we’re going to examine the use of dialogue, and how to make it an effective part of the story. This will include discussing the use of dialogue tags and ways in which not using dialogue can be just as effective as when you do use it. We’ll also take a look at how to frame dialogue in such a way as to make it a part of the action, and not just a way of dumping information on the reader.
In the first two articles of this series we looked at the basics of story structure and how to use that structure to build an effective outline for a story or novel. If you’ve been following along with the advice from those articles you should now have an outline of your story, and may have even completed a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of your novel. Now it’s time to populate your story and to do this we need to work on some character sketches.
In the first article of this series I spoke about the importance of structure and the four main building blocks of any story. This time I want to talk about how to take those building blocks and use them to create an effective outline, starting from a single sentence and eventually building up to a fully realised beat-by-beat breakdown of your story or novel.
It’s an accepted truism that anybody can write or tell a story. However, not everybody can tell a good story, one that engages the listener (or reader) and makes us want to know more. Writing a good story requires at the very least a basic understanding of a few simple rules and guidelines for constructing a story, as well as an imaginative and interesting subject for that story. In the case of the latter (the subject) there aren’t really any hard and fast rules and every writer will have their own approach to generating the ideas for their stories. However, the technical aspects of storytelling are fairly straightforward, even if they can take a lifetime to master.
In this article I want to take a look at the basic building blocks of a story’s structure, the essential elements that are the basis of almost every short story or novel you will ever read and which will form the foundation on which you will later build your narrative structure.