A problem and a solution – that is the kernel of a good story. You must be inventive enough, however, to develop complications that will keep a problem alive from the first chapter on. There are two methods to introduce a novel’s central problem … gradually reveal it through lesser problems until you are well into the story; or to disclose the prime direction at once, sometimes in the first scene. Either way will work, but the problems must not be insignificant.
There should be immediate urgency. The main character must be emotionally involved or you will lose the reader. Not all scenes can carry high action, but even if characters are merely sitting in a room talking, the dialogue can duel with words. When I write a novel, I choose to stay in the viewpoint of one character throughout the book, whether in first person or third. Of course the main character can’t appear in every scene where I might like him to be, but this can be worked out in other ways… for instance, by having someone describe what has happened in a scene when my hero couldn’t be present.
If you use more than one viewpoint, remember that there can be a drop in interest when readers are forced to leave a character with whom they have become involved, and have to switch to someone unknown. Interest must be built up again quickly before disconcerted readers decide to dislike this change of viewpoint. Just one viewpoint per chapter though.
To keep scenes dramatic and convincing, make sure that the characters we visualize are really transferred to paper, so readers know them as well as we do. Repeat the earlier descriptions so the reader doesn’t forget them . The same applies to settings. To keep everything dynamic and alive, the background – a room or a forest, had better be touched on again . because stories do not happen in a vacuum.
Dynamic problems lead to dynamic events that may lift the spirit and inspire the lives of our readers.
I look forward to your comments, and will be happy to cover any writing problems you might encounter.
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.