This is a question every writer or new writer has asked themselves from time to time. How to write fiction that people will not only want to read, but enjoy and remember a long time after they have finished the book.
This article although aimed at novels can easily be applied to short stories.
The first thing to appreciate when constructing engaging fiction is to start with a strong main character or protagonist. You want your main character to stand out and be able to carry your story right through to the end. This is even more important for longer fiction as you obviously have to engage the attention of your readers for longer.
What makes a memorable character can be many things. Unusual physical appearance can help such as for example, a very tall man who has a lot of tattoos and a bald head. However, it is the personality of your main character that will stay in the minds of your readers more. Readers want to be able to identify with your main protagonist or at least sympathize and root for them when they are presented with obstacles or opposition.
Your main character does not have to be perfect by any means, but they have to be likable, appealing and believable. They need to seem almost real. Even if your main character has many flaws, their good points should still outweigh them.
Another aspect to bear in mind when writing engaging fiction is your plot. Good fiction should contain conflict, that is, a hurdle or obstacle that your main character needs to overcome in order to achieve what they want. It would be very difficult to write engaging fiction without a strong plot. Regardless of the genre you are writing in, the same rule applies.
A good plot should aim to grab the reader's attention from the beginning of the book and should contain sufficient tension and cliff-hangers. This is especially true when writing thrillers or crime fiction. When writing engaging fiction the plot should not be predictable but should keep your readers intrigued until the end. However, even if you are writing romance fiction for instance, the plot should not be obvious. It could even include a credible twist.
Your style of narration is another way to write engaging fiction. Third person narrative is popular for good reason. It allows you to follow the thoughts and view the world of all your characters both major and minor. Third person narrative also assists with plot as you can better understand the actions and motivations of the antagonist, for example.
By contrast first person narrative although restricted to your main character has the added advantage of you seeing the story unfold closely through the eyes of your main protagonist. This intimate view of storytelling can add excitement and tension, thus making writing more thrilling.
Finally, the time span of your book or short story can make your work more compelling. Obviously, the shorter the time span, then the more tense your story is going to be, again very useful for thriller writing. However, a longer time span will allow you to include more details thus creating vivid memorable fiction.
© S P Wilson
Sharon Wilson is an aspiring writer who is serious and passionate about the art and craft of creative writing. She has undertaken several courses in this field and has gained extensive knowledge of writing novels and short stories. Sharon has a keen interest in poetry and is an avid reader. Her blog is dedicated to all writers, especially the new writer: https://sharonswriterstidbits.wordpress.com/