The term “novel” encompasses so much territory that it seems silly to talk about them as a whole. Everything from Anna Karenina to the Twilight series falls in that category. Nevertheless, I’m going to try to explain what kinds of features that I enjoy in a novel and why I like them. Obviously, these are just my preferences. I don’t expect everyone to agree.
According to Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, “Movies and books form a mental structure in your head of what is possible and what is not. But these are artificial structures based on the rules of fiction. They do not necessarily represent what is practical or possible in the real world.” By this, he means that the principles of cause and effect work differently in fiction than in real life. If, say, someone in a movie punches a jerk in the face in the middle of school, and everyone respects him for it, you might get the wrong idea about what would actually happen in real life. Probably something closer to a long term suspension. He’s saying that if you read a lot of fiction, you might start to confuse reality and fantasy, resulting in some mistaken impressions of how the world really works. That’s one reason why I like books that have good internal consistency. Continue reading