In paintings or photos, balance creates attention and beauty. No single element should overwhelm any other, while those individual components echo, contrast, and complement. Finally, monotony of form, color, or anything else, muddies. Where’s the focal point?
These precepts also pertain to the novel, though, obviously, not in terms of color or shape. The fundamentals of fiction include:
* Action: Dramatization of cinematic scenes.
* Dialogue: Two or more characters conversing.
* Narrative: Transition and context grounding action and dialogue.
* Information: Backstory, exposition, facts, or intellectual stimulation.
Tip: Good fiction varies and harmoniously balances its components.
~ No one element should overwhelm the other
Unless sufficient narrative supports the action, you’ve dumped the reader in the stream without a life preserver. Everything in fiction serves story. So even if this is an informative moment, it mustn’t overwhelm the characters’ journey. Still, too much action resembles a few crumbs of cake slathered with a quarter-can of frosting. In fiction and everything else, too much of a good thing remains—too much.
~ Individual components echo, contrast, and complement.
Fiction immerses readers when the whole’s more than the sum of its parts. The narrative adds irony or clarity to the dialogue. If the stage business simply repeats, such as “‘Get Out!’ Marge shrieked angrily,” you’ve neither contrasted nor complemented. But, for example, if setting affects the action, or intensifies the dialogue, one element enhances another. Contrast matters, too. When suspense is high, tease readers with an information break. Conversely, if you’ve just explained at length, appeal with humor, lyricism, or tension.
~ Monotony of form, color, or anything else, muddies.
Some writers treat dialogue like a faucet that stays off or on. Characters don’t say a thing for pages, but then talking floods everything else. A mess in either a novel or a painting.
Whether with fiction, photos, or paintings, audience satisfaction springs from balanced elements that each contribute without any one overpowering.
**** Laurel's new book, Beyond the First Draft, is now available from Amazon or Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing.