The Five Important Elements of a Story | Reading
For a story to flow and develop in a logical way it must have five elements. The ability to identify these elements is emphasized on the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Reading subtest. We’ll take a look at each element to further your understanding and comprehension of what you’re reading.
Setting: Where does the story take place?
Where a story is set is more than just a place (Paris) or a geographical area (the Atlantic Ocean). It is important to be specific. For example, what time period is the story happening in? What time of year? What time of day? What are the weather conditions? The setting is the framework for a story, and allows readers to escape into a story as if they were there.
Plot: What is the story about?
The plot is used to structure events so the story flows from beginning to end. According to Words In Action, a good plot:
- Has a distinct narrative.
- Has a compelling conflict.
- Is believable with the story’s characters and setting.
- Shocks readers with a sudden change of events between characters or situations.
- Flows in a logical way.
Characters: Who is in the story?
Characters bring stories to life. Who the plot is happening to, and how the characters interact and develop, makes all the difference in how interesting a story will be. If you relate characters to people in your life, you will see the need for every character to be unique. When characters have their own personalities and desires, we feel connected to them in a positive or negative way. The plot matters even more to us as readers.
Conflict: What problem is presented in the story?
A story without conflict is like a rollercoaster that only goes in a straight line. The ride quickly becomes boring and disappointing. Conflict, a clash between two opposing forces, comes in two forms: internal and external. The most fascinating stories have a mixture of both.
Internal conflict is an emotional and psychological struggle occurring in a character’s mind. For example, “I want to camp out with the club this summer, but I am secretly terrified of the dark.” The character’s fear prevents him from reaching a goal.
External conflict is a struggle between a character and another character, or an outside force. For example, “Max can’t complete his paper route because the furious dog chased him out of the neighborhood.” The dog (outside force) prevents Max from completing his job.
Resolution: How is the conflict solved?
A resolution brings closure to a story. Once a conflict is established, the plot centers on the characters solving the problem, or working through the conflict. It’s important the resolution fits the rest of the story’s tone and creativity, and solves all parts of the conflict.
Ready to test your understanding of the five important elements to a story for the TASC test? Click HERE to take our quiz!