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When is a Book a Novel?

By the end of this article, you will be able to easily recognize when a book can be considered a novel, as we will show you the characteristics that make this narrative genre unique.

Although the terms “novel” and “book” are most often used interchangeably, there are essential differences between the two.

Physically, a novel and a book may be the same, but this is no longer true regarding content.

While it is true that a book can be a novel or a short story, it can also be a non-fiction book, such as an encyclopedia, a dictionary, a manual, and much more.

In contrast, the novel is limited to fiction and has several characteristics that make it a unique content format.

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The novel is a literary work

By fulfilling all the requirements of a literary work, the novel acquires the character of an artistic creation. These are some of the reasons:

  • Describes or narrates characters and events.
  • The first or third person is used. Although unusual, stories have also been told in the second person.
  • Its purpose may be to communicate messages, and ideas, or simply to produce satisfaction to the reader.
  • The narrative is guided by a plot.
  • It uses different literary resources.
  • The novel is a narrative of written transmission (a literary work can be narrated orally or in writing).

The novel is a narrative genre

Narrative genres allow us to establish a classification for literary works.

In the case of the novel, it is considered narrative because its content is written in prose and because it is a fictional account (narrative can be fiction or non-fiction).

For this reason, although the novel is divided into different subgenres, it only includes stories.

Novels are mainly made to entertain (except for those who study them as critics, teachers, and literature students), while books can also serve as a source of information or learning.

For example, a history book does not seek to produce emotions, but rather to show real-life events.

Contains elements of the narrative work

Novels present all the elements of a narrative work, such as plot, character development, theme, time, and the setting in which the story takes place.

These elements drive its fictional character and establish a clear difference concerning other types of books.

To create fiction is basically to imagine and devise events or descriptions of human life for entertaining, teaching, or even both.

If a work of fiction is long enough to be put into a complete book, then it can be said to be a novel.

It is created by a novelist

Those who write novels are known as novelists, although the term “writer” is also commonly used.

Most novels depict the individual experiences of the characters, many of which are a reflection of the writer’s own experiences.

In this way, a closer and more complex narrative is created.

Novelists often delve into the thoughts and feelings of the characters, as well as their values and conflicts. As a result, stories take on a more intimate and complex character, more so than in any other literary genre.

It is important to note that not just any author or writer is a novelist. It is necessary to be careful in how we classify a writer. Today it is essential to evaluate whether the work is really a literary piece.

The narrator of a novel may have different levels of knowledge or perspectives. For example, the first-person narrator and the third-person narrator show the same event in different ways.

It is narrated in literary language

Unlike other literary genres, the novel maintains the aesthetics of words. This means that there is more depth in the development of the characters and the use of different literary devices and resources is applied.

The narrators are also concerned with the expressive character of the work, and for this purpose they employ idiomatic resources different from the ordinary ones.

Indeed, the literary language is different from the usual. The novel applies grammatical, morphosyntactic and lexical-semantic resources to imprint a high level of aesthetics on the text.

Some of the most common are alliteration, onomatopoeia, paranomasia, anaphora, derivation, concatenation, antithesis, comparison and hyperbole, among many others.

It is divided into chapters or sections

Chapters or sections are the parts into which a novel is divided. In fact, the term chapter comes from the Latin capitulum, which means “head”.

It is common for each of the sections to have a specific number of pages, while the length of all the chapters is usually similar.

If the writer needs to organize the content in an alternative way, he or she may also choose to divide the novel into three acts, within which the chapters are included.

The main benefit of this is that, as a reader, we can better digest the story in stages.

In addition, dividing the novel into parts or sections allows the author to narrate more easily, either to review a specific scene or to check any information.

If a writer knows in advance how many chapters the story will have and its content, the writing task will be less complex.

Has a minimum word length

While there is no fixed word count for writing a novel, in general, novels are written in no less than 60,000 words.

This can amount to 200,000 words or more, depending on the author, which translates into about 2,000 pages per book. In the case of the short novel, the length is usually around 40,000 words.

In conclusion, the novel is a type of book in which we will find more personal stories, not only from the point of view of the writer, narrator or characters, but also from our own experience when reading them.

While genres such as epics and poetry were created to be publicly disclosed to an audience, the experience of reading a novel is purely individual.

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