When writing a story,
there are certain things that I think of. This is probably due to being in lots of writing classes, and reading many, many
fantasy books growing up.
contain some kind of plot, subplot, point of view, setting, dialogue. These are things that are intentionally put in by the
Plot is basically what
happens in the story. This is usually the driving force behind actions of characters. Even though part of the dictionary-definition
of PWP is “having no plot,” even these stories have some kind of plot—it’d
just be a simple one.
Subplots are less common
in fan fiction, but they appear frequently in novels. A subplot is a minor complication in the main action. If you play RPG
games like The Legend of Zelda, then you’ve played a subplot before—for example, in Ocarina of Time
Link has to kill and capture ten poe ghosts to gain a bottle. Technically speaking, you can defeat the game without killing
the ghosts, but many people choose to embark on the time-consuming quest anyways. A subplot in a story is like that, too.
It’s a bit of “unnecessary action” to add spice to the general plot.
Also, the quality
of major a character is illuminated by interaction with minor characters and subplots. So, even though a subplot may not be
necessary to the development of the story, it’s usually important to understanding who the main character is.
talking about subplots, it should be noted that the action of a subplot reinforces the theme. Sometimes it exists to provide
comic relief or simply to add interest/excitement to a long story.
Point of View—or
PoV—is something that can be straightforward. There are many different ways to tell a story, and PoV plays into this.
3rd person limited
PoV is generally thought of as the “I” persona, but there are some “I” persona stories that are actually
third-person, so it’s better to think of 1st person as being told from one person’s mind.
is usually incorporated to give the reader a feel of intimacy with the main character. Other times, it’s used to keep
the reader from knowing what the other characters are thinking. An author might not want the audience to know what the others
are thinking so that the reader is free to feel their own emotions, and develop their own opinions on the main character.
Many developing authors I know choose the 1st person PoV because they think it’s easier—you’re
freed from grammar constraints (‘cause who thinks perfectly?), but in many ways it’s more difficult. One must
feed the reader only some of what the character is thinking, and one doesn’t
want to lose a reader in the process.
When done well,
first person makes for an incredibly individual feel to a story. But if an author
switches PoVs, then it’s amazingly difficult to differentiate enough between Character A and Character B’s personas…take
Chee’s Edinburgh, for example. He writes strictly from Fee’s PoV until the last
fourth of the book—whereupon he picks up Warden’s PoV. It’s a sudden jump, and Warden winds up feeling a
lot like Fee.