Making a Point - a good novel and what goes into it.

18th July 2012
Writing and producing a novel is a bit like making a sword. First, you take all the raw material and melt it down in a crucible, then you take it to the anvil and hammer out as many of the impurities as possible before folding and turning the whole thing over on itself and hammering it out again. The more often you can fold it over and incorporate another layer the stronger it will be. Finally, put an edge on it, give it a handle to show to the world, and the job's done.
illustration of dwarf hamering at an anvil, brown colour overall
Mime at the Anvil by Arthur Rackham
The result should be something flexible and elegant; perfectly balanced, of suitable length and, above all with a point to it.
illustration of man with sword aloft, the mythical hero Siegmund
Arthur Rackham - 'Siegmund.'

A good novel should:


  • Entertain us and maintain our attention and fascination.

  • Provide a plot that twists, moves forward and takes us along with it.

  • Persuade us that we are participating in some way in the joys or conflicts of other lives.

  • Reveal information or possibilities that we have not previously considered.

  • Urge us to think about the characters and what their aims and intentions are.

  • Help us to understand something about our own situation and make sense of it.

  • In some cases, help us to ponder and reflect on an alternate reality and the many different ways people can be, not just today but at other periods in history.


We are all different. We all have different opinions, and when we pick up a book we are all looking for unique and varied experiences. That is why there are so many genres in literature (Crime, Mystery, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, Noir, Sci-fi and so on). All are valid, and all have their good and bad examples. If we enjoy what we read, and if the story coaxes us into altering our perceptions, even if ever so slightly, then it has succeeded in at least some of those points outlined above.


Who knows what we might find when we open the pages of a good book! The love of the Novel is a love of ideas and thought.


And, of course, it's always good to explore and to try new things.


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