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Elements Of Novel

What are the elements of a novel? Explain all elements.

Background to English Literature.

In general, the main elements of a novel are as follows: narration, plot, theme, setting, and character. 

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  1. Narrator- The mind from which all aspects of the story are necessarily told 
  2. Theme- one or more direct or indirect statements about the human condition as evidenced through the work as a whole
  3. Plot- the series of events which make up the story, traditionally, conflict, climax, denouement, and conclusion
  4. Setting- the place, the time, and the social circumstances of the work.
  5. Tone- The general attitude of the author toward the characters or the subject matter of the book.
  6. Characters- the sentient or non-sentient beings alive or dead who are the actors of the events
  7. Point of View- perspective from which a work is told, 1st 3rd; omniscient, limited

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The elements of a novel are the same elements as that of the short story--plot, theme, setting, point of view, character--except that there may be more than one of each of these elements.  That is, within the main plot of a novel there may be several subplots, there may be more than one theme, and point of view can certainly change as well. For instance, in William Faulkner's novel, "The Sound and the Fury," the first part of the narrative is recounted by Benjy, a grown man with the intelligence of a small child whose childhood memories merge with the present occurrences.  Then, the point of view switches to the point of view of Quentin, a stream-of-consciousness not unlike Benjy's, yet somewhat different. Then, the third part of the novel is narrated by Jason Compson IV, the brother of Quentin, who has committed suicide.  Finally, the fourth section of this novel has yet another narrator.

Themes such as love and passion and pride run throughout Faulkner's novel. replete with many characters. Thus, the reader of the novel encounters more intracacies of the elements, changing settings, more complications and much more development of plot and character--even changing points of view sometimes --than in the short story.

Just as Faulkner's novel reflects life in his beloved South, the English novel traditionally has been strongly influenced by the social, political, economic, scientific, and cultural history of England. Old English narratives, such as "Beowulf" and "The Canterbury Tales" are closely connected to the cultural history of England. Usually, the English novel from the eighteenth century on focuses on the individual and his/her relationship with his environment.  Jane Austen's novels have as their main focus the society in which her characters live.  His/her personal emotions are often closely examined, as well with characterization is highly developed in the English novel as in those of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, for example.

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arjun | Student

Plot: Plot is the backbone of all literary forms. It means out lines or the events which the author collects from the society and are saved into his mind. He rearranges them in the natural way and writes in form of novel.

How to Narrate the Story:

(a)The Direct or Epic Method 

(b)The Autobiographical Method 

(c)The Documentary Method

Subject Matter:

The novelist picks out good deeds as well as bad deeds and writes on it in form of the novel. He works like media for the contemporary society.So society is his subject matter.


                Characters are the backbone of a novel. The novelist introduces several characters to carry the story to its end. These characters must be life like, and they must cover all the jobs of society. It means that he introduces hero, heroine, villain, attendents, servants, sweepers, officers etc.

Language and Dialogues:

Novel is a great source of entertainment for the readers in case of journey or free time. A novelist writes it for the sake of readers because he wants to transfer his knowledge. This knowledge is transferred into writing form with a noble spirit.  All sorts of communications are known language. Now it has become a rule that the language of novel should be simple and make free its characters win sympathies of the readers. The dialogues should not be long that may bore the readers. The readers can utter the dialogues in one breath with full skill.


                Like drama, novel also holds conflict that moves the story to the conclusion. In novel, there are two kinds of conflicts. One conflict or tussle is between hero and villain that is called an external conflict. The other conflict is shown within the character himself. It means there is the tussle between a character and his conscience or mind due to some problem that has become the headache of the main character.

Scene and Setting:

                The fictional characters depend on the locale that is endowed by the author. . His setting is not bookish but original with newness. The novelists avoid bookish settings because they like to visit themselves in order to freshen their work. The other setting is imaginary because the setting of the novel is not always taken from a real life. The novelist has ability to create the totality of his fiction. The English scholar J.R.R.Tolkin, in his ‘Lord of the Rings’ (1954-55) creates an alternative world that appeals  emotionally to many who are dissatisfied with the existing one.


 Novel gets length according to its stuff. The novelist uses two ways for presenting human characters. One is the limitless or considerable length. Servant’s Don Quixote, Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Dickens’s David Copperfield are the best examples. In such type of length, the novelist presents a large section of  life. He narrates the story from the birth to the old age. The other is the brief way, and for it, he uses a significant episode in the life of a personage. This type of novel is the production of the World War II.  In that time, brevity was considered as a virtue in works like the later novels of Samuel Beckett.

tesh21notes | Student

There are 7 elements...they are Setting,Character,Plot,Conflict,Theme,Style & Point of View. Setting refers to the environment, the physical place & the time in which the story takes place. Characters are the people that are in the story.Plot is the sequence of incidents which has causal relationship.Conflict is the clash of actions, ideas,desires or wills. Theme the central or dominant idea in the story.Style is the writer's choice of words(diction) and the way such choices are arranged...And Point of View is the voice & vision through which the events of a story gets told

asianschoolperson | Student

i novel should be made up into five different sections

1.  Intro

2. Support

3. Support 2

4. Support 3

5. Conclusion

angelsallu | Student


Every novel has these five elements:

1. Setting - When and where the story takes place.

2. Characters - The people (or sometimes animals) the story is


3. Plot - What happens in the story.

4. Theme - The lesson the writer of the story is trying to teach the

                   reader. The "message".

5. Point of view - Who is telling the story. First person point of

                view uses "I", and is told by one of the characters of the

                 story. Third person point of view uses an unnamed

                 narrator who knows what all (or most) of the story's  

           characters are thinking.

I hope this helps...keep going...

jd | Student

The easiest way for me to remember them is A, B, C, D, E.

A = action.  All stories consist of rising and falling actions.

B = background.  Spending the time to develop rich characters and settings will help readers connect with the story.

C = conflict.  Good stories often involve some sort of conflict, that is, a wanting that is not yet attainted.

D = denouement.  Everything begins to make sense here.  The knots are untangled.  The protagonist "knows" now what to do and begins to solve the conflict.

E = ending.  How has the protagonist evolve?


Of course, not all novels follow the pattern of A, B, C, D, E.  Some start with B, then A, C, D, E and so forth.  BUT, all novels have these elements. 


I hope that helps.



itszackey | Student

Well everyone before me is 100% correct. But there are somethings that would be worth adding i found this out from my tutor. When explaining characters add any connections thet have with other characters.

For example. Percy Jackson is the son of the sea god Posidon the connection between them is their ability to control the element of water for purposes of healing, fighting, or some extra strength. 

Not my best example but hopefully you get where im coming from. 

photoshopwhore | Student

Plot:  Before starting your novel, you need to have a solid idea of what it is going to be about.  Without a great storyline, or PLOT, most people will put the book down before they have even given it a chance.  

Theme:  The major idea that keeps your book going.  Some authors use real life situations, or things that they have experienced themselves, while others stick to fantasy type scenarios with Fae, Vampires, Werewolves... you know the ones that I am referring to.

Setting:  The place and time that your story is set in.  This will determine the style of writing also - you don't want to type a sentence that says 'she'll be right, mate', if you story is set in the 1700's... right?  And in the same context, you wont want to say that your character is riding a horse and carriage through the streets if your story is set in 2020... unless of course Horse and Carriage makes a comeback.

Characterisation:  The characters in the novel.  Are they real... human?  Or are they fantasy creatures that float on clouds and live in glass castles?

Conflict:  What is the problem or conflict in your story that keeps the reader gripping the edge of their seat?  As I said above... many authors use real life situations, and as such, a conflict that has happened in their lives could very well happen in anybody's life.  The more that the reader can relate to the story, the more they will enjoy it... unless of course they just want to get lost in the new fantasy that's just been released.

florine | Student

  One of the best-known book that deals with the novel as a genre is E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel published in 1927. Therefore, E.M. Forster's close scrutiny of the working command of the art of story telling is contemporaneous with V. Woolf, J. Joyce and W. Faulkner's novels. He raises a certain number of problems: how does the novel tell a story? What about chronology and time? The detective element? The dialectic of the universal versus the individual that confers the "bardic rapture"? How do the various elements fit together?The names of the different chapters are the story, people, the plot, fantasy, prophecy and pattern and rhythm before the author reaches a conclusion: he affords the reader with a sense of unity when he eventually establishes a link between the "development of humanity" and the "development of the novel."

overworked | Student

plot, themes, setting, point of view and characters.

epollock | Student


Most textbooks tell us that a novel is a work of fiction, almost always written in prose, at least 150 to 200 pages long. The textbook definition also distinguishes novels (as works written in prose) from classical epics. The Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid, for example, are all very long poems. Because the novel is a long form, it can cover a period of years, following the characters through a number of major changes.

Similarly, because the reading time of a novel may be far longer than the running time of most plays and movies, novels give us the opportunity to develop close, even intimate relationships with both the characters and the narrator.

Equally important to our understanding of the novel form are its differences from the traditional form of the romance. The romance may date back to antiquity, though the most familiar examples are probably the medieval stories of King Arthur and his knights. 

Romances vary widely, but they do have some common features. The setting of a romance is usually remote and, perhaps, exotic, like that of a fairy tale. The characters in a romance are also sketched broadly—handsome prince, beautiful princess—and may include larger-than-life figures, such as giants and wizards. Finally, there’s often some sort of magic in a romance. The romance is a form that has no trouble with the supernatural or the metaphysical.

In addition to our definitions of novel, amatory tale, and romance, we might also consider a basic chronology—a small-scale history of the relationships among those three forms. It’s clear that the romance was stripped down and treamlined into the amatory tale, and it’s also clear that the tales were then developed into the first novels. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that—because the forms of the romance and amatory tale are very much alive and well. The Harry Potter books draw on the long tradition of the romance, as do the works in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

As for the amatory tale, consider British author Barbara Cartland, who is said to have produced 700 different love stories in the latter half of the 20th century.

I hope this clears a few things up about the novel.