What a good novel should have …

Of course, this is only my opinion but for a good novel must have the following attributes …

  • Fully 3D characters
  • Excellent description of places, so you feel you are there
  • Complexity – nothing is simply black or white
  • Heroes who get it wrong some of the time
  • Bad guys who get it right some of the time
  • Events and characters that explode cliches
  • The ability to make you think, turn your values upside-down, if only a little
  • The story should grow you, your attitudes, as it does those of the protagonist

Novels that have all this do not grow on trees :-).

I’m currently re-reading Frank Herbert’s “Whipping Star”, it has all of these qualities and is still brilliantly thought provoking after 38 years.

What do you think? What makes a good novel for you?

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9 thoughts on “What a good novel should have …”

  1. Elen,

    A good novel leaves some sort of emotional reaction within and I’ll recommend it.

    A great novel, like a great hairstylist or great lover, will make return again and again.

    An unforgettable novel winds up in my personal library and teaches me to be a better writer. 🙂

    Erin Sinclair


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  3. I think a good novel bears reading again and again and each time you do, you realise that there is even more in it than the last time you read it. I like a novel to hit me at all levels, it must have suspense, it must have realisitic, fully fledged, characters and must have imagination. I can’t bear novels that chatter about day to day rubbish. I love reading books where the heroine has gumption and nerves of steel (not the tired dreary stereotypical gender role behaviour!). However, her character has to be believable to me. She can get up to all sorts so long as she is real to me! The novel must have adventure and emotional impact.


    1. Yay, I agree. I’ve books that do that on my shelves. I too love suspense, adventure and need the protagonist to be believeable. I just can’t do wet and fluffy though, even if believable. I need to feel sympathy with characters, even the bad guys, I don’t like to only despise them, that leaves me bored with them.

      Elen Sentier http://elensentier.wordpress.com


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