There are certain elements which every novel has and they are plot, setting, characterisation, theme, style, and presentation. Most should be familiar with them, but it doesn’t hurt to revise! Here are some things to note when before you start writing a novel.
Plot is what happens in the novel, it is the arrangement of the story. Here are the important things to note:
This is a sequence (or sequences) of events that parallels the main plot; it can closely resemble the main plot or it can diverge in significant ways in order to highlight the main plot.
The setting of a novel encompasses a number of different, but linked, elements:
Characters in a novel are the vehicles by which you conveys to your view of the world. Here’s what you should take note:
This is the central idea which runs through the novel; your purpose in writing this novel. Here’s what to take note:
These often help clarify a theme when writing a novel. It can be anything from a single object (a key, a necklace, a stone); a place (the beach, an airport, a house); a repeated type of object (a dark car, a woman in sunglasses, an eagle flying overhead); a shape (diamonds, circles, crucifixes); a gesture (wiping glasses, lighting a pipe, a hand in a pocket); a colour; a sound; a piece of music, poetry; to a fragrance (the smell of new-mown grass, cigar smoke).
Symbols are used to give intangible ideas and emotions visibility and solidity that makes readers notice them. Symbols can also help unify the plot, where a recurring symbol is used to link different events and characters.
This is the revelation of the unexpected consequences of actions and words. Irony can add interest, humour and impact to the novel, or it can give depth to characters, tighten the plot, help to define the characters and contribute to our understanding of your novel’s theme.
This is the perspective from which you’re telling the story. There are four main ways a story can be presented (and countless combinations of these):
These point of views can provide readers access to character’s thoughts or to what’s happening in the story. These can also emphasise different things. You can adopt a subjective point of view, to let the readers judge and interpret the characters for themselves; an objective point of view, where you present the events and allow your readers to make judgements; flashbacks, to fill in the background for your readers.
This is what the characters are directly saying to each other or to their environment. Dialogue breaks up the actions and descriptions, so the readers can take a break from them and not get bored. Here are the four main purposes of a dialogue in a novel:
The language you use also reveals the theme and purpose of your novel. Whether the complexity of sentence and paragraph structure, the use of humour, satire and irony, imagery and other poetic devices, and word choice, all contribute to the readers’ appreciation of the characters and events which involve them. It’s your choice, whether your readers are left totally unconcerned about the fate of characters, or can shed tears when some tragic end overtakes them.
When writing your novel, it’s great if you can direct your readers to discuss a particular aspect of the your novel when they’re reading it.
Writing a novel may sound intimidating for a start, but with some planning, it should be less scary. Follow the steps in our guide and you will be ready to embark on your adventure in your new novel. Leave a comment and share your new novel with us and our community now!
Refer to our article on the word count for different genres of novels.