What makes a good or a great novel? Is it the characters, the setting, the plot, the dialogue, or the ending? It’s probably a combination of all of these things, and more.
I’ve always believed that a good novel has to have the following ingredients, regardless of what genre:
1. Interesting characters
2. An exciting plot
3. A great story
4. A great ending
Good dialogue is important too. It is how we get a glimpse inside a character’s head and a character’s heart. When dialogue moves us—and makes us smile, laugh, and/or cry—we feel a stronger connection to the story and the characters, which makes the book memorable.
What makes a novel bad? I guess the opposite of the above, right?
1. Boring characters
2. A boring plot
3. A bad ending
And a lot more…
When you find yourself skipping paragraphs and/or pages, chances are, you’re losing interest in the characters and/or the story. I’m sure that many of you have opened a book, started reading it and then midway through, closed the book and never finished it. Do you remember why you stopped reading?
I do. I once read a story that seemed interesting enough to keep going. But when I got to the chapter where descriptions began to feel like the author simply wanting to show off her knowledge on history, even though it didn’t necessarily pertain to the story or to the protagonist, I closed the book.
Description is a vital part of a story. It is what paints the picture for the reader. It is what puts them in the mood and helps them see the story clearer. But when descriptions become too flowery or too detailed, I lose interest.
Last year, I began reading a novel that started off strong. A few pages in, I found myself skipping sentences and paragraphs. The author described too many mundane details I didn’t care for. I wanted to get to the story, but instead found myself skipping through sections about what the character ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then what beer he bought, when and where he bought it, and how he sipped it. It was way too much. I stopped reading in the midst of chapter four.
So now I’d like to ask you a few questions about fiction. If you’d like to answer them, simply leave your answers in the comments section below:
1. What genre of fiction do you enjoy reading?
2. What is your favorite novel, and why?
3. Who is your favorite novelist, and why?
4. What makes you lose interest in a story?
5. What types of protagonists do you like reading about? Do you dislike?
6 What type of endings do you prefer (happy, tragic, sad, cliffhanger endings)?
7. What type of narration do you prefer (example: first-person or third-person)? Does it matter?
8. What novel(s) have you read more than once? Why?
Thanks for answering the questions.
Happy reading and writing!