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What is a Novel? (More Wet Water, Please)

"What is a novel?" This question is not as unusual as it might seem to those in the creative writing professions. But it does speak to the growing number of writers who want to write, but astoundingly, don't like to read!  

To write good fiction, it's important to read and value fiction, and to study and understand the craft. 

To be taken seriously as a writer, as in any career, knowing the correct terminology is also helpful.

A close cousin to the question "What is a novel?" is the statement, "I'm writing a fiction novel."

This raises eyebrows by being redundant, the equivalent of drinking a glass of wet water.

Novels help to shape our ability to empathize and analyze, and they provide access to thoughts and experiences we might never encounter otherwise. They broaden our sense of the world and of humanity.

So What is a Novel?

A novel is a book-length work of fiction depicting one or more characters involved in the active pursuit of some external objective.

A novel provides the illusion of reality, with both the characters and the fictional world portrayed so that readers may temporarily suspend their disbelief.

Even with the knowledge that there are no known Martians, or that the story is in reality only letters on a page, readers may identify with the characters and situation.

While they are reading, the world of the novel becomes real.

  • A novel is a book, but a book is not always a novel. 
  • A novel is more than 50,000 words in length. 
  • novel is fiction. Use the two words separately, never together. You may write fiction, and you may write a novel, but unless you're also in the habit of asking for a glass of wet water, do not say that you're writing a "fiction novel." It will mark you as inexperienced. 
  • Novels are subdivided into genres : literary, historical, detective, romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, crime, western, and horror, amongst others.
  • The novel form came into use in the early 1700s
  • Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe is often cited as the "first novel." 

To understand the various types of novels you may like this article by the Encyclopedia Britannica

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