In my view, stories and novels consist of three parts; narration, which moves the story from point A to point B and finally to point Z; description, which creates a sensory reality for the reader; and dialogue, which brings characters to life through their speech- in a way the most difficult task-
Another important part, unless for some people, is symbolism; the ability to summarize and encapsulate what makes symbolism so interesting, useful, and, when used well, arresting. Does that make it necessary to the success of your story or novel? Indeed not, and it can actually hurt, especially if you get carried away. Symbolism exists to adorn and enrich, not to create a sense of artificial profundity. Symbolism does serve a useful purpose, though, it´s more than just chrome on the grille. It can serve as a focusing device for you and your reader, helping to create a more unified and pleasing work.
But when you write a piece of fiction, if not always most of the time, you need and extremely sympathetic and supportive first reader. One of my friend is my most ferocious reader, she is the equivalent of Hitchcok`s wife, Alma Reville, a sharp eyed critic who was totally unimpressed with the suspense master´s growing reputation as an auteur. Lucky for him. Not long after finishing Pshycho, Hitchcock screened it for new friends. They raved about it, declaring it be a suspense masterpiece. Alma was quite until they`d all had their say, then she spoke very firmly: “you can´t send it out like that”. There was a thunderstruck silence, except for Hitchcock himself, who only asked why not. “Because, his wife responded, Janet Leight swallows when she´s supposed to be dead”. It was true. Hitchcock didn´t argue any more than I do when my special reader raise her eyebrows when I make a mistake on my writings. Where to find an ideal reader? I don´t know but it’s a question of time. But one good of advice; don’t allow another writer to read your stuff.
As a reader I am more interested in what´s going to happen than what already did. Yes, there are brilliant novels that run counter to this preference. Rebecca, by my beloved Daphne Du Maurier, for one; A Dark- Adapted Eye, by Barbara Vine, fro another. Even when you tell your story in this straight-forward manner, you will discover you can´t escape at least some back story. The most important things to remember about back story are that everyone has a history and most of it isn´t very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don´t get carried away with the rest. Long life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour or so before closing time, and if you are buying.
Sergio Calle Llorens