What Are the Defining Characteristics of the Novel Genre?

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The defining characteristics of the novel genre include a long, fictional story comprised of characters, events and actions that have a definite beginning and an eventual end. The novel genre has several sub-categories that include historical novels, mystery novels and romance novels. Novels are stand-alone books or books that are part of a series of novels.

The main characteristic that all types of novels share is that they are written to entertain their readers. Novelists — people who write novels — use forward-moving plots to engage their readers’ attention and make them care about the well-being and fate of the main character or group of main characters throughout the book.

The novel genre is based upon the suspension of disbelief that a reader must invoke to immerse herself in the book. In other words, since novels are not real, the reader must accept the fictional story as plausible in order to remain engrossed in the story. Novelists keep their readers engaged by creating characters, places, things and events that mimic real life or fantasy situations that appeal to a specific demographic. For example, romance novels mainly appeal to women readers, while historical novels appeal to people who are inherently drawn to the past.