If you’d like to be a writer, or you have to write a paper, letter, or essay, you may think that the logical development of writing means to just start at the beginning of what you want to say, and when you get to the end, you stop. That’s the way your brain works, so why shouldn’t that be the way writing works? While that certainly is one choice, you will most likely fail to get the reader’s attention, and your writing will lack good style, well-planned word choice, and coherency.
Certain elements of writing will help you gain the skills to master the organization of your ideas and help you develop a good writing style, grammar skills, paragraph structure, and sentence structure. There is more that goes into writing than many people think.
Why Is Writing Important?
Below is a list that explains in detail why writing is important:
- We use writing to communicate – Writing is often used to convey what we want to say to other people.
- Writing often reflects your skillset and train of thought – Writing is often used as a way to demonstrate your literacy skills as well as enable you to form an argument or point of view. Such as, when writing an essay or literary work.
- Writing improves your reading skills – When you write, you consult references, and reading simply becomes a part of the process, which in turn, elevates your reading level.
- Writing reflects our opinion and point of view – Writing often reveals what you value most and highlights your personal priorities and opinions. An example of this is writing a blog.
- Writing is a way to keep a record of our thoughts and memories – Writing allows you to cherish memories and look back on them as time passes by. Often this done through keeping a journal.
- Writing allows you to reflect – When you have a lot on your plate, and your mind cannot handle the large array of things you need to do, often writing them down will allow you to refresh your mind as well as prioritize and get more done.
- Writing develops your analytic and creative sides – We often analyze things by writing down their significant details. It also allows us to interpret things creatively, such as, writing a song, poem, or a story.
- Writing impacts people and their society – Historic records and writings are kept and are made available to the public, so that we can understand significant moments in history and understand how society functioned throughout the years.
- Writing enables you to create stories and to entertain people – Writing has brought incredible joy to many people in the form of entertainment. Many written books have also been adapted into movies. Other forms of entertainment have also been possible through writing, such as theatrical performances.
This article and other resources can provide you with a great start when you want to learn the elements of writing. Writing is a process that looks a little different for everyone, but most people follow the same basic rules and guidelines to produce a story that a reader would be interested in.
Another helpful resource is a great book written by Vanderbilt University alumni, Charles Euchner. Euchner wrote “The Only Writing Guide You Will Ever Need,” and it is full of examples and lessons explaining the elements of writing. With 91 lessons that walk you through each facet of writing, this is an excellent resource and tool to have by your side and has been hailed as “The bible of writing” by many students and writers.
Another great method of learning the elements of writing is to take a seminar or class for writing. Instructors or writers can help you learn the writing process so that you can write a novel or story that has clarity, detail, well-polished characters, and details. They can also offer direct and immediate feedback, which can make an immediate difference.
The Writing Process
As stated earlier, the writing process looks a little different for each writer. As you write more and develop your own style, you will tailor your own writing process according to what works best for you.
Your methods of organization may change, your focus may shift as you master some skills, and the sort of language used may change so that it better reflects the author. These are all part of a writer’s specific style. The basic writing process doesn’t really change, though.
There are many elements in writing fiction. Usually, they are broken down into categories, and from there, broken down further. This article will provide a basic description of each of these major elements and provide examples so that students or writers can understand the point in knowing the elements of writing.
The Elements of a Good Story
Before you throw yourself into writing a story based off ideas you’ve had, you need to organize your thoughts and flesh out your characters, details, and other information relevant to storytelling.
Readers care about your story when they care about the characters you write. Every story needs a protagonist or main character. You have to bring life and the idea of a person you have invented. Make sure that you include:
- Character background
- Some form of character arc
- A personality that will make your characters so realistic that they could almost jump right off the page and exist in the real world
Readers invest in the characters, which makes them want to keep reading your novel or story so that they can find out what happens to their favorite characters.
For example, no one reads Harry Potter to learn the intricate history of Hogwarts. We want answers about the characters. People needed to know what would happen to Harry Potter and his best friends, Ron and Hermione. When you can make your readers care about the characters, they’ll more likely keep reading and complete your novel or story.
Decide what point of view your story is best told in. Should the narrator be the protagonist or another character, giving the reader an inside view into his or her own mind and feelings? That’s the first-person point of view.
The second-person point of view, which isn’t used often but can be incredibly effective at drawing a reader in and immersing them in the story, is when the author speaks directly to the reader, breaking the fourth wall.
The most common type of narrative is third-person point of view. This is when the narrator has no stake in the story and is not one of the characters. They are simply retelling things that happen. Sometimes they know nothing about the thoughts and inner feelings of the players in the story (third-person limited). Sometimes the narrator knows everything (third-person omniscient).
Deciding how you’ll tell the story or in what voice you’ll tell it is key if you want to break through to the reader and create something that they will be invested in. You can have a great idea, but you lose the audience if you don’t know how to explain that story effectively.
There must be a conflict to every work of fiction. The conflict is the focus of the characters, and it’s the struggle they must get through to reach a conclusion. If you do a good job of creating conflict and making your protagonist navigate through it realistically, you are well on your way to writing stories that your audience will like.
Make sure that in your character development, you have established enough personality in the protagonist to give the audience an idea of what his or her nature is. The protagonist must then react accordingly to the conflict.
For example, if you mention in the writing that the protagonist is terrified of spiders, and then you put him in a dark basement full of them, and his task is to get out of the basement and stop a killer before the killer can strike again. You give the audience some knowledge of how the protagonist will react to the conflict.
If you explain that your character has flaws, and then you put them up against conflicts that will trigger those flaws, you stimulate the interest of the audience. Just make sure that the conflict isn’t so unusual that it seems too catered to the protagonist’s flaws or strengths.
Mechanics of Writing
After you complete the process of working out the storytelling, you must move on to the mechanics of writing. This is the English class content students learn throughout the course of their basic education. If you didn’t take note during that period of your life, it’s not too late. You can still learn basic rules of grammar. Reading as much as you can will help you with this task.
Mastering the English language is almost an art in and of itself. Putting your sentences together so that they form a cohesive paragraph and organizing your paragraphs so that the story flows is crucial for writing students. Just be sure that you don’t leave out creativity in the search for mechanical perfection.
For example, if your story takes place in the deep South, your protagonist may have an accent. Incorrectly spelling some words to reflect the dialect of the speaker keeps readers submerged in the story.
Keep It Simple
Word choice is important as a writer. Depending upon what you are writing, the words you choose to use can make or break your work. Try to keep the language as simple as possible. Words that are too complicated or big can turn an audience off quickly. No reader wants to feel stupid or have to grab a dictionary to look up a word to make sense of the story.
Keep in mind that Euchner went to Vanderbilt University, one of the top 20 schools in the US, and he still chose words in his books that someone with a sixth-grade reading level can understand. Don’t try to be sophisticated. As a writer, you’re trying to tell a story. Don’t use words no one understands.
Editing can make a big difference in how your stories turn out. After your story or paper is completed, you should go back and edit your own work. Make sure that your sentences are well structured, that each word is spelled correctly, and that your ideas are well organized and don’t jump around.
Students who don’t take an active role in editing their own work often face criticism and negative reviews. If your argument as the author is that you are too close to your work, suggestions to combat that issue are to search through your work for technical issues. Always proofread your work. Then ask someone else to do the actual editing.
Make a note of the weak spots within your work and any sentences that don’t make sense or are poorly executed. Make the necessary changes to your paper, and further develop any ideas that may still be confusing or unclear to your audience.
Never Stop Learning
Suggestions and help with understanding the elements involved in producing good work as an author are more available than ever. With the invention and mainstream use of things like computers and smartphones, and devices like the Kindle, you no longer have to go to the library or sit in a classroom to learn how to structure paragraphs properly.
We are all perpetual students of life, and each paper you complete gets you one step closer to being the author you want to be. A quick search on the internet can answer most questions you may have on how to develop intriguing, well-produced, cohesive, and clear work.
Never assume you know everything. That’s an argument that will stop your growth. Continue to hone your skillset and continue to practice.