Characteristics of Fiction Novels

Settling down to enjoy a good book is a favorite pastime for many Americans. According to research done by National Center for Education Statistics in 2003, 32 percent of Americans read books on a daily basis, while 38 percent read books on a weekly basis.

Fiction novels provide readers with an escape from reality, as well as a form of entertainment. While there are many different genres of fiction, all fiction novels share some standard characteristics.


There are several different types, or genres, of fiction novels. Mystery, historical, romance, fantasy, western, science fiction, action/adventure, humor, medical, tragedy, erotic, thriller, horror and espionage are some of the main categories of fiction novels. Some genres follow a consistent theme.

For example, all mystery novels involve a crime or other mysterious event that usually gets solved by the end of the book.


Plot is an essential characteristic of all novels. The plot is the story, the reason for writing the novel. The author creates a story that is believable, or at least relatable to true events, feelings or actions. A science-fiction story about living on Venus with aliens as pets may not be entirely believable, but the author can write the characters and events in such a way as to be relatable to real life.


The setting is where the plot takes place. For a fantasy novel, the setting may be an imaginary realm with creatures, plants and lifestyle completely different from those in the real world, so the author must dedicate himself to describing the setting in such a way as to make it feel real to the reader. The setting is an aspect of a fiction novel that makes the story believable.

Point of View

Point of view is essentially the voice of the narrator. There are four types of point of view: first person, second person, third person omniscient and third person limited. First person is written from the main character’s perspective. Second person is written like a choose-your-own-adventure, using “you”. Third person omniscient allows the reader inside the heads of all characters involved. In third person limited point of view, the narrator focuses on the main character and his perspective. .


Conflict is necessary in a novel, because it makes the story feel real. Happily ever after all the time would make for a dull story. Conflict can be external or internal. A gruesome murder case or a cheating spouse are examples of external conflict. An internal conflict can be a character’s battle with forgiving someone who wronged him or discovering an unpleasant personality trait in himself.


Resolution is the part of the novel where the main character faces his emotional demons and makes a change, or where the murder case is solved and the suspect is taken into custody. The resolution isn’t always happy. Sometimes the resolution is that the murder case is closed because of lack of evidence. In any event, at the end of the book there is always a resolution of some sort.

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