It could be said that with the advent of eBooks, and cheap online publishing, good fiction is hard to find. Though the lack of certain elements is painfully obvious in much of what you see these day, there are still good writers out there who bring a great deal of these elements to life in their work. Here are a few things that distinguish these excellent writers from the plethora of mediocrity present in some fiction these days :
1. Character development
Arguably the most important element of any good story is a memorable character, but it should never just be “a” memorable character. A good fiction writer spends time developing each and every character in the book, some more than others, of course, but neglect of secondary characters can actually ruin an otherwise good story.
All of the people in your story should have distinct characteristics that make them both compelling, and relate-able. We all like to be able to relate to the characters in the fiction we read. Though we tend to focus on certain ones, usually the leads, just as in a play or movie, if the characters are fully developed, we may relate to all of them on some level.
One thing that makes characters both interesting and relate-able is their interactions with one another. If these are well thought out, and fully developed, all of your characters will come to life. They will play off one another in ways that will make the entire “cast”, and your story itself, far more memorable and compelling.
2. Plot structure
“The plot thickens” as they say, and if it doesn’t, then your entire story appears a bit thin. A good plot is well thought out from beginning to end. An excellent writer will take the time to go back and flesh out any weak points or holes that might be left in their plot as it develops. They will then do so again once they feel it is finished.
If the proper effort is point forth, there is never a weak plot, or a weak element within that plot – not in the finished product. Yes, writing fiction is work, just like anything else. If you are going to be a fiction writer at all, you should always endeavor to be a good one and attend to such details.
Though some do not work with outlines, if you sense overall weakness, it may help to create one. This can be done at any point in your writing, it does not have to be the start of it. This will help you spot potential weaknesses in your plot as a whole, and iron them out as needed. If you did start with an outline, it may help to go back and modify it along the way if you detect weak points.
3. Valid conclusion
This is where even books by famous authors can fall short. We can enjoy their plots, fall in love with their characters, but still – when we get to the end, something just doesn’t feel “right”. Be sure your ending is every bit as compelling as the plot that has driven it there. Weak endings can be a sure way to lose readers. It can be an anti-climactic let down if the conclusion to your story doesn’t feel valid or warranted.
This is not to say it will necessarily be a “happy ending”, either. Not all stories in life end that way, why should fiction be any different. This is were you have been leading your reader all along. Never let them down with anything less than a compelling ending that makes sense in light of all that has preceded it.
Your ending can make or break you as an fiction writer. A compelling conclusion will ensure that people want to read more of your work, because you have shown you are an excellent writer through it, and all these elements combined.
Based on personal experience as a writer, editor, and administrator of various sites and online media platforms, and work with private book editing clients.