Every story consists of the same five story elements, regardless of the type of story. Those five elements set the stage, they drive the story and they let the reader know what’s what. These five elements come into play at macro level (the entire story) as well as micro level (a specific scene).
The Main Five Story Elements
Every story has a proper beginning, middle and end. Every event and action leads to the next. Structure organizes information for the readers and makes text easier to process. This means readers won’t put your book down as fast because they are comfortable reading longer.
There is always a conflict of some kind. This brings a little drama to the story but certainly does not mean the story has to be dramatic. The conflict can arise from all sorts of situations, e.g. a disagreement, a broken toilet, a problem that has to be solved. This bring excitement to the story and gives the reader something to look forward to. If there is conflict then surely something will happen next. Either the conflict is handled or the problems multiply!
In a story exist different types of characters. Of course you can’t go without having a main character, even if it is actually an object rather than a person. Your readers will bond with your main characters so make sure they are rich in complexity and personality. A story can also have supporting characters, which bring an important contribution to the story but are not as three-dimensional as the main character(s). There is also the option of flat characters, otherwise known as “fillers”. They do not have names, they do not have lines but they are necessary to fill a place with liveliness.
Even if the story is just one single scene, it has to take place somewhere. That is the location. This can be a country, a work place, in a road during a road trip, anywhere.
Does the scene take place during the day? Are they dragged out of bed in the middle of the night? Is there snow outside? Time refers to days as well as seasons, years, ages and so on. It makes one hell of a difference for effect whether it is day or night if your main character is about to meet a vampire.
Secret 6th: Resolution
Most stories have a happy ending but an unhappy ending is also an option. In fact, many books are quite successful without an ending at all! Indeed, even an open ending is in fact an ending. Most readers prefer to have some sort of resolution in the end. All the spot holes have been filled, the main questions have been answered. We might not know how the characters live on after this, but we do know the main conflicts have been revolved.