Elements of Novel Writing


A novel, often subdivided into sections, chapters, and scenes, and entailing expository, narrative, and narrative summary writing, creatively depicts a protagonist’s journey, usually fraught with obstacles and restrictions, toward a personal goal.

“All novels have similar elements,” according to Walter Mosley in his book, “This Year You Write Your Novel” (Little, Brown and Company, 2007, p. 97). “They have a beginning, middle, and end. They have characters who change, and a story that engages; they have a plot that pushes the story forward and a sound that insinuates a world.”


Sometimes intellect can be a hindrance or even a handicap. Countless people walk around, wishing they had the time and tenacity to write the novel they believe is already within them. Yet, when they actually sit down to write it, albeit it in first-draft form, they ponder numerous questions, such as, What should I write? I have an idea, but no one will like it. Let me think of what’s popular. Romances sell well, so it doesn’t take much to figure out that that’s the answer. Or is it?

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If the author does not have a romance, a fantasy, a mystery, or a science fiction piece in him, they are not likely to come out of him, and, if a meek resemblance to one does, it is not likely to be accepted for publication.


Determination of what type of novel-or any other genre, for that matter-the author should craft, should, to a significant degree, hinge upon what he likes to read.

“Why should you write what you love to read?” poses Evan Marshall in his book, “The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing” (Writers Digest Books, 1998, pp 7-8). “First, because you’ve read books in a specific genre for so long, you’re aware of the kinds of stories that have been written in it… Second, your passion as a reader will translate into your passion as a writer.”

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Readership, needless to say, is integral to the publishing process.

John Cheever expressed this author-reader duality when he said, “I can’t write without readers. It’s precisely like a kiss-you can’t do it alone.”

As a reader himself, the author should determine which types of novels he enjoys reading and why, perusing the book lists to see what has sold, what has been extensively covered, which books may be similar to the one he intends to write, and then decide if he can approach the same subject or topic with a fresh approach or perspective.

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