A novel can be described in the following ways.
A work of the imagination. A novel is a work of fiction, i.e. it is a story drawn out of the writer’s imagination. Fiction means story or something made up, but is not made up of actual events, happenings or people.
A story that is rather long. A novel is quite lengthy, 150 pages or more.
A novel has people or characters. A novel has characters, i.e. people or individuals with their own personalities. The plot of a novel is made up of events that are woven together in a deliberate pattern..
A novel imitates real life. The happenings in a novel mimics real life. A novel represents real life having in it what we can believe are real people even though some novels have fantasy characters (e.g. superman) or non-real life happenings.
A novel may be fantasy but has to be believable. A novel has to be credible, or believable.
A novel contains a point of interest or a twist. A novel is usually interesting in a way that readers want to continue to read it. An unusual event may happen that is totally unexpected. The twist is something that happens to save the day. Or it can be something that happens that is outside of human imagination or that you would not expect to see happen in normal life. However, these unusual happenings are written in a way that makes them totally believable.
There are good and bad characters. Characters can be good people or bad people. The good ones are remembered in terms of the good they do, their achievements or sacrifices. The bad ones are usually extraordinarily evil and are remembered for the terrible things they do..
Novel means ‘new’ and must surprise the reader in some way. The very word ‘novel’ itself tells the reader that what is told is ‘new’ or ‘news’ or ‘short story of something new’. Hence a novel must have the capacity to surprise the reader or must contain something unusual that he has not heard of.
Although novels depict real life, they can depict a completely different world e.g. planet of the apes. A novel is also seen as little histories, hence they are meant to depict real life, although science fiction and others can depict a world entirely different from the real world as we know it. One such example of a different world/worlds is ‘Gulliver’s Travels’.
A novel keeps the reader guessing. A good number of novels are written in a way that keeps the reader on edge – they are full of suspense or unresolved questions. A reader wants to read on to find out how something will work out.
A novel gives food for thought. Good novels stays in the mind days after one has completed reading it. In other words, good novels give food for thought, i.e. they stimulate one’s thinking, or the ‘feel good’ element in the novel makes the reader play it out many, many times in their mind so they can relieve the ‘feel good’ moments again and again.
A novel entertains. Reading novels is a good pastime or recreation. It is relaxing and one can escape from one’s life and its problems temporarily as one gets involves in the lives of the characters in the novel.
A novel sometimes presents serious issues. Although the theme of novels can be something quite trifling, it can also deal with very serious issues, such as the environment, an unjust government, corruption, etc. The novel ‘Catch us if you can’ deals with the problems of the aged in society who are no longer able to take care of themselves. It also touches on problem of orphans or children who have no parents or whose parents have gone missing.