Novels have a structure that, in most cases, is centered on a beginning, middle and end. The three act structure is a classic, but great writers have jettisoned the established in the past. The important tactic is to find an act structure that allows the narrative to progress throughout the piece, in a compelling and captivating manner, until a conclusion is reached. Creating an act structure will enable the audience to be aware of the direction the narrative is heading into, and thus maintain their interest, and hopefully their passion. The end of each act should reveal something that is important to the reader.
Once the structure is decided on, the next stage is to build a world that audiences will relish spending time in. The goal is to create a fantasy world that completely suspends their disbelief while they are engrossed in reading it. The story should take place within a specific setting with a consistent theme, identity, culture and set of characters. In choosing a setting try and draw upon your own experiences or a world that you find enticing. If the reader is going to spend time living in this world it needs to be an environment that elicits their passions. A worthwhile point to consider is that the setting should never become cumbersome or rely on clunky exposition, which will only detract from the work. The setting should always be engaging to the readers. Some of the best writers utilise setting effectively to challenge conventions and as witty commentary.
An essential component to any novel is the protagonist. Investing time in character development when it comes to the protagonist will create believable figures in your work that audiences readily identify with. Who is the main character, what is their motivation? What is their personality like? These are important elements to consider. Develop a personal profile of the main characters and try as a thought experiment explaining their essence to someone unfamiliar with the figure. The protagonist should have a conflict that needs to be resolved, the best fiction tends to concentrate on the agency and decision making of the protagonist.
Knowing what the ending will be during the planning stage is a major asset in crafting compelling and dramatic scenes. The protagonist or protagonists have something they want to achieve and a goal they are working towards, what is the outcome? Do they achieve it, if so, how? Selecting an ending first and then developing the storyline to reach that conclusion helps to plot out a clear path. This approach if employed correctly will hopefully prevent the writer from needing to paste in clunky juxtapositions or out of place bridging scenes. Tension arises from cliffhanging scenes and dramatic character moments, which can develop more naturally with the end vision in mind.