December – Exploring the Novel

What are the elements of a great novel?

For many of us, when we begin our first book, we are entirely in the dark on what it takes to put together an engaging book that will keep our readers turning the pages.

When I wrote my first novel, though the idea was a good one, the first draft only had 10,000 words. 

OBVIOUSLY, something was missing. So, I began my journey of reading self-help books on writing the novel.

First of all, let me tell you there are HUNDREDS of books about writing a novel. And while some are wonderful resources, there are a lot of stinkers, too.

But I kept copious notes, and I will share information with you – my Blog readers. 

I identified seven elements that need to be present in a novel to make them great. So, over December, we will take these seven elements and break them down into their individual parts. 

I hope you find them useful, as well as helpful. I know that many of you wrote the first draft of your novel during NaNoWriMo, and these notes may help you take that draft and turn it into the book you always wanted to write.

Below are the seven elements and the first fundamental question to ask yourself.

»    Plot

o Does the novel have a plot

o Is this goal strong enough to sustain an 80 000-word long book? 

»    Characters

o Do I care about what happens to the protagonist and the antagonist?

»    Viewpoint

o Has the writer chosen a viewpoint that suits the story? 

»    Dialogue 

o Is there enough dialogue in the book? 

»    Pacing

o Does the pace suit the story? Books are made up of scenes and sequels. Scenes are faster than sequels, and there are more of them. They are also longer. A good writer knows how to mix these up and get a rhythm that works for a story.

»    Style

o Does the writer have a distinctive, engaging style? You can tell if a writer has this even if the grammar and spelling aren’t perfect. 

»    Beginnings, Middles, Endings

o Does the story start at the beginning? A beginning is a delicate thing. There should be enough action combined with a touch of description, a hint of backstory, and dialogue – if necessary. Is the hook good enough to make the reader turn the page?


When all of these things came together and tied up neatly with a bow, the book works. 

But don’t take my word for it. Read one of your favorite novels and use these criteria. Does the book contain these things? Do you think that’s why you kept turning the pages?

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Published by Mustang Patty

I am finally a full-time author, who writes legal thrillers, how-to- books, short stories, flash fiction, a tiny bit of poetry, and Blog posts. My published works include 'Guilty until Proven Innocent,' 'Innocent for the Moment,' and 'Moment by Moment.' This is a trilogy called the Jill Adair Series. Additionally, I've written a collection of short stories about my dogs, Howie and Bernie - with a 2nd Collection coming in late 2021. I'm also coordinating an Anthology of Short Stories called, '2021 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology.' This book will be available on on August 1st of 2021. (The 2020 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology is currently available on - the collection includes 30 stories, written by 18 different Authors from three continents.) I am married to my wonderful hubby of over 37 years, and I have two grown children, named Heather and Gregory. I've been blessed with two beautiful grandbabies, Heather Rose and Logan Ernest.

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