How to Understand and Write Fiction Stories?

A fiction story is a creation of human imagination. The author comes up with a story and develops characters, the plot, dialogue, and even the setting. Basically, a fiction story is not based on true accounts of events. As such, it is one that takes the readers through an experience that they can never get in real life, makes them meet people that otherwise don’t exist and takes them to places that they will never visit.

The purpose of a fiction story is to inspire us, scare us, intrigue us and give us new ideas. It is also intended to open our eyes to see the world in a different way, an interesting world.

We have three main types of fiction stories: short story, novella, and novel.

  • Short Story

A short story is a type of fiction that can be completely read within a single sitting usually thirty minutes to two hours. They are usually made up of 1,000 to 20,000 words and are typically not more than 25-30 pages. A short story usually has constraints in terms of length which therefore makes it focus on a single plot and just a few characters.

  • Novella

These are stories longer than the short story and are usually made up of at least 50,000 words but not less than 20,000 words. In terms of pages, they are made up of 60-120 pages. Since these stories are a bit longer, they have more room for more characters and a complex storyline.

  • Novel

Novels are stories with more than 50,000 words and go beyond 120 pages. For such stories, there are no limits as far as the number of words is concerned. The author decides how far he/she wants to go. This means that the novels can have more than one plot and even more characters.

What is Plot Line  – Definition

Plot constitutes everything that happens in a story; however, it does not include the action. The plot is organized in such a way that the writer brings the actions of the story in a manner that will make it easy for the ready to understand. We can, therefore, say that the plot of a story is a chain of reaction in which events are organized such that one event leads to another.

In order to understand the plot in a fiction, you should note that the author has only picked one line of action out of many other possible actions that he/she can choose from. The process of trying to find out why the author chooses that line of action of the other allows you to understand better the plot of the story.

However, this doesn’t imply that events have to happen in a particular chronological order; the author can decide to bring in a line of action that is yet to be determined or one that is meant to happen after the conclusion of the story. It is also important to note that, you an author cannot provide all the information pertaining to a single action; this means that you can bring some to the forefront while omitting others.

One important thing about the plot is that it gives the story meaning through selective information. This means that the cause and effect relationship of actions or one event with another should be made to be believable and logical. This is so because, in the event that this relationship looks insignificant, then the reader will lose interest in reading the story.

We can consider a story does not have a plot if the events that occur in the story are just reflexive. This is because the plot only occurs in a story in the event that the author fully understands how human beings react to ever-changing situations. For example, how does hate, love, regret, longing, and ambition came into play in the story? This majorly depends on the characters that the author has developed.

Since the plot is dependent on the characters, then it means that the plot is what the characters in the story do.

Another thing about the plot is that it is not constant; it fluctuates such that an issue that has been brought up will end up being solved.

A good fiction story should begin with a description that results in some form of complication. The complication then brings a crisis that requires a change. This happens before the climax of the story, which is the moment of the story that is most heightened.

In most cases, the climax is usually followed by conflict resolution or denouement.

In order to have a good plot, you need to build a strong foundation in terms of logic that ensures all events are well connected to each other. The plot is largely connected to the theme.

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Elements of Fiction

The following are the most common elements of fiction: plot, setting, character, conflict, symbol, and point of view. All these are geared towards developing the story and the theme.

It should be noted that all fiction stories are not made up of all these elements at the same time.


The plot is usually considered as not an important element of a story but in itself, it carries a lot of significance. As we have mentioned above, the plot constitutes everything that happens in the story. A good plot is one that has a surprise ending.


A story is made up of two settings, the physical and chronological setting.

The physical setting of a story is the exact place where the story takes place or happens. This can be general for example, a small fishing community or very specific e.g. a house at 450 Back Street, New York.

The chronological setting is when the story takes place. This can also be general or specific.

As an author, you should ensure that your setting is relevant to the plot of your story.


A character is an individual present in the story. A story usually has the man character. In a story, characters can be evaluated by looking at what they say, do and what others say about them.

A literary foil is a word used to describe a character in most cases the main character or protagonist by bringing in another character that is completely the contrast.

Literary foil examples:

  1. Draco Malfoy is a foil to Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series
  2. Captain Hastings serves as the foil to the Belgian detective in Agatha Christie Poirot novels.


A story can have two types of conflict, either internal or external conflict.

External conflict can be in the form of a man against or man against nature.

Internal conflict exists within oneself. It is equally exciting as the external conflict but you should not that, internal conflict usually occurs more in real life.

For very many fictional stories, authors choose to go with external conflict because they are more interesting and it also very easy to write.


In fiction, a symbol is a representation of something else or something that gives meaning to something else. In most cases, we have a tangible thing that gives meaning to something that is intangible. For example, attaching a Rose to I love you.

In order to get the best from a fiction story, you need to understand the symbols used. The purpose of symbols is to make the story more interesting and to add depth to it.

Point of View

This is the narrative point of view. In other words, it hos the story is told. To make it even clearer, the point of view of a story is also the person telling the story.

Let’s briefly look at the point of views of a story.

  • First Person Point of View

This is where the story is narrated by a character in the story. Usually told using the first person pronoun, I.

In case the story is narrated by the main character, then in that case, the point of view is referred to as the first person protagonist.

For a secondary character, the point of view is considered as the first person observer.

  • Third Person Pronoun

This is where the story is not told by an insider character but by another invisible person that is the author and usually uses the third person pronoun he, she or it.

We have two types of third person point of view:

Third person omniscient narrator

This is an all-knowing narrator who tells more on the thoughts of the characters.

Third Person Dramatic Narrator

This is a narrator that doesn’t give insights on the thoughts of the characters; rather he/she only gives information that can be recorded

The following is a summary of the types of point of views that we have mentioned above:

First Person Narrator

Can be:

  1. Protagonist
  2. Observer

Third Person Narrator

Can be:

  1. Omniscient (All-knowing)
  2. Dramatic (No thoughts)

The point of view can be used to bring out different meanings. For example, the first person protagonist-narrator allows the reader to understand the thoughts of the main character in the story. The author can also deny us access to the thoughts of the main character by using the first person observer or the third person dramatic narrator.


Theme is actually not a part of the elements of a fiction but in essence, it is the result of the story. The theme is basically the message the author is trying to send to his/her readers. What do you want to pass across to your author or what you want your readers to understand and remember?

Many people tend to equate the theme to morals. This should not be so because moral is meant to be a positive idea or meaning while themes are not universally positive.

A theme cannot be one word.

For example:


This can be a topic but not a theme.

A theme is a statement on a certain topic.

For example:

The theme of the story is that love conquers all

The theme or the story is that in every adversity there is twice an advantage if you look for it.

Remember that, all stories do not have a universal theme.

Parts of a Short Story

This is almost similar to elements of a fiction

Just to list them. We have:

  • Character
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Theme

Briefly, let’s look at how to write a good fiction story:

  • Make you show action, don’t merely tell

In your writing make sure you make the reader feel connected to the story and not only just read it but also feel that it is actually happening and they are there watching.

  • Develop Three Dimensional Characters

When describing your characters, don’t just mention him/her. Make sure you describe them in such a way that the reader can visualize the character and even connect his/her actions with their looks. This should be done in almost all the characters.

  • Choose the best Point of View

Depending on the message you want to pass to your readers, make sure you choose the point of view that will bring out it well. For example, if you want the readers to connect with the character, using the first-person protagonist can work well.

  • Your characters should have motivations

Make sure you keep your readers engaged by continuously bringing in more ideas through motivating your characters. Always ask yourself, what does this character want?

  • Write what you are good at

Don’t go into a field that you don’t understand. Choose the area you are familiar with and make your readers know that you are really good at that.

  • Be moved by your story

If your story doesn’t have an impact on you then don’t expect it to move your readers. Make sure you feel your story. Always revise your work. The most important thing is to trust you. You work can only be good if you think it is good.

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