More Than a Bunch of Bones
The basic plot structure goes something like this: a character has a problem. He does everything he can to solve it, but the problem gets worse and worse. After a while, the character reaches a low point. It seems nothing will ever be right again. Then, against all odds, the character, through initiative or insight or both, reaches inside himself and finds a way to resolve his problem. The story ends in equilibrium as all becomes right with the world.
This structure is well-known throughout western storytelling- mainly because it works. It creates page-turning tension and gives the reader a feeling of satisfaction at the end. But this is only the skeleton of the story. The bones, if you will.
Writers hoping to create fully-fleshed out characters that exist in a fully-realized world must also consider important elements, like:
- The main character’s internal desire
- The internal conflict that prevents that character from resolving his problem
- The many secondary characters that make the story come alive
- Characters’ backstories
- Dialogue that drives plot or reveals character
- Narrative voice
These are the muscles and sinews that attach to the skeleton. Without them, a story is just a bunch of bones.