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Elements of fiction
Even among writing instructors and bestselling authors, there appears to be little consensus regarding the number and composition of the fundamental elements of fiction. For example:
- "Fiction has three main elements: plotting, character, and place or setting." (Morrell 2006, p. 151)
- "A charged image evokes all the other elements of your story—theme, character, conflict, setting, style, and so on." (Writer's Digest Handbook of Novel Writing 1992, p. 160)
- "For writers, the spices you add to make your plot your own include characters, setting, and dialogue." (Bell 2004, p. 16)
- "Contained within the framework of a story are the major story elements: characters, action, and conflict." (Evanovich 2006, p. 83)
- " . . . I think point of view is one of the most fundamental elements of the fiction-writing craft . . ." (Selgin 2007, p. 41)
As stated by Janet Evanovich, "Effective writing requires an understanding of the fundamental elements of storytelling, such as point of view, dialogue, and setting." (Evanovich 2006, p. 39) The debate continues as to the number and composition of the fundamental elements of fiction. 
Characterization is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. A character is a participant in the story, and is usually a person, but may be any persona, identity, or entity whose existence originates from a fictional work or performance.
Characters may be of several types:
- Point-of-view character: the character from whom the story is viewed.
- Protagonist: the main character of a story
- Antagonist: the character that stands in opposition to the protagonist
- Supporting character: A character that plays a part in the plot but is not major
- Minor character: a character in a bit/cameo part
Plot, or storyline, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. It is the rendering and ordering of the events and actions of a story. On a micro level, plot consists of action and reaction, also referred to as stimulus and response. On a macro level, plot has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Plot is often depicted as an arc with a zig-zag line to represent the rise and fall of action. Plot also has a mid-level structure: scene and sequel. A scene is a unit of drama—where the action occurs. Then, after a transition of some sort, comes the sequel—an emotional reaction and regrouping, an aftermath. (Bickham 1993, pp. 23-62)
Setting, the locale and time of a story, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. Sometimes setting is referred to as milieu, to include a context (such as society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story. In some cases, setting becomes a character itself and can set the tone of a story. (Rozelle 2005, p. 2)
Theme, a conceptual distillation of the story, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. It is the central idea or insight serving as a unifying element, creating cohesion and is an answer to the question, 'What did you learn from the piece of fiction?' In some cases a story's theme is a prominent element and somewhat unmistakable. (Morrell 2006, p. 263)
Style is not so much what is written, but how it is written and interpreted. Style in fiction refers to language conventions used to construct the story or article. A fiction writer may manipulate diction, sentence structure, phrasing, dialogue, and other aspects of language to create style or mood. The communicative effect created by the author's style is sometimes referred to as the story's voice. Every writer has his or her own unique style, or voice (Provost 1988, p. 8). Style is sometimes listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction.
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