Every story is unique. Some say that every possible story has already been told, so every new book is only a variation of what’s already been written. There are many genres and subgenres of books out there with characters and storylines that vary greatly. Sometimes, you pick up a book and it draws you in from the first page. Other books don’t grip you for some reason. It’s not that the writing is poor or that the story is bad, but nothing really jumped out from the page at you.
So, what are the elements that make a story interesting?
Voice. You sense it, or feel it, from the first few sentences of the page. The character’s voice, or essence. Does it speak to you? Can you relate to them? Or are they so complex and quirky that you can’t help but turn the page to find out what they’re about to get up to? A strong character voice is what makes the story.
What else is it that keeps you turning the pages of a book?
Conflict. More than just action or plot, conflict is what keeps the story moving forward. A lot of literary agents and book reviewers alike suggest starting your story in the middle of the action to grip the reader right away. What they mean is starting the story with conflict right off the bat.
Conflict can be emotional, physical, political, social, etc. It doesn’t matter what the conflict is. What’s important is that the conflict and tension continue throughout the story to keep it engaging and interesting. Never let your character rest. If a peaceful part of the story lasts more than a page, the reader might zone out and your story will start to lose steam.
Voice and conflict can make or break a story. Not everyone will find the same story interesting, nor will they love the protagonist in every story. However, the more effort you put into developing your character’s essence, or voice, along with keeping the conflict going, the more likely your readers will be impacted by your story.
I hope this helps, dear writers! Happy writing. Xx