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How to Write a Novel Analysis


Writing a novel analysis allows you to dissect a work of fiction to see what makes it so gripping. The essay closely examines the main elements of the genre, such as characterization, theme and plot, and how they work together to create a unified story. Whether you're reading a book for school or trying to write one of your own, a novel analysis can help you discover how the tools of fiction writing achieve the book's overall effect.

Plot Power

Plot provides a story's skeleton, giving the main character a conflict to face as it unfolds. In the exposition stage of plot, readers meet the character and learn the challenge before him. The action gradually escalates to the climax, the high point of the character's struggle, followed by resolution, or falling action. In your novel analysis, identify the main character's problem or conflict and the events in the story that characterize each stage of the plot. For example, in "The Great Gatsby," Jay Gatsby's conflict is wanting to win Daisy's affection in spite of the social barriers between them and the years that have passed since their early relationship.

Matters of Character

The typical novel presents a struggle between the protagonist, the central character, and the antagonist, the character who stands in the way of the protagonist's goal. In your analysis, identify which characters in your novel fit these roles. In "The Great Gatsby," for instance, Gatsby is the protagonist who desires a new life with Daisy, while her husband, Tom Buchanan, is the antagonist who keeps him from achieving this goal. You can also write about the characterization techniques the author uses to develop these characters, such as their speech, actions, appearances and how other characters describe them.

Setting the Stage

A book's setting isn't just the story's background scenery. Often, setting plays a critical role in the action. Looking at your novel, consider how the story's time and place influence the characters and plot, as well as why the author's choices are essential to your particular book. In "The Great Gatsby," the choice of the socially divided neighborhoods of East and West Egg during the decadent 1920s illustrates the conflict of social class that characterizes Gatsby's dilemma with Daisy. You can also consider how setting influences the story's mood, or atmosphere, including the season, weather and time of year.

The Theme Scheme

A story's theme is the primary message or lesson created through unity between its characters, plot and setting. The theme of "The Great Gatsby," for example, might be that no matter how great someone's nostalgia for the past is, it's impossible to return to it. Examine the novel for quotations, character traits and symbols that illustrate this message. Looking at a book's title can also often point you to a theme. The title of "The Great Gatsby" could refer to the admiration narrator Nick Carraway has for Gatsby in his sincerity and determination to win Daisy back, even though they cannot repeat their past relationship.

About the Author

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.

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