What Makes a Good Novel?
Back in November, I lost my mind and decided to participate in NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo. Now, NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, wasn't too bad. I went a little batty trying to come up with a new blog post every day, but I did it.
NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, was a different story. The goal was to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, with quantity trumping quality. I made it to 4,626 words. Which is exactly 4,626 more than I'd written before NaNoWriMo, so I'm considering it a success.
Some interesting characters sprouted up in those nine pages, and I may go back and see what they're up to. There's Anna, an American living in London. And Ian, a Scottish guy who sells puppets in Covent Garden. I know, the puppet thing is weird. I have no idea where it came from.
To gear up for NaNoWriMo, I bought No Plot? No Problem!, written by the event's founder, Chris Baty. He suggests creating two lists to help figure out a vague plot direction. The first list is what makes a good novel, and the second is what makes a boring or depressing novel. Of course, these are completely personal and need not be based on anything more than an inkling, a whim, or a fancy.
Like the puppets, I was surprised at what appeared on my lists.
What Makes a Good Novel
- Strong plot (a page turner)
- Interesting characters
- Satisfying, happy endings
- The feeling that I could live in the novel’s world (and do live there while I’m reading it)
- English setting
- Good (but not extensive) descriptions
- The passage of seasons
- Believable dialogue
- Intellectual pursuits
- Intersections of multiple story lines
- A sense of mystery and intrigue
- Romance and true love
- Unexpected connections
What Makes a Boring or Depressing Novel
- Long-winded passages of description of scenery and setting, especially if it involves directional attributes like north, south, east, or west
- Too much death
- Industrial topics
- Adventure stories of man vs. nature
- Anything set in a jungle
- Plots with such a wide scope and so many characters that I need a legend to keep it all straight
- Heavy historical perspective
- Most detective mysteries
- Ghosts, demons, and monsters
- Bad character names
What would be on your lists? Where would you put the puppets?