What makes a good novel?

February 18, 2014 at 11:39 am

Do you know what makes a good novel? Sometimes I wonder if I do. This could be a serious problem, since I write them, but I think it’s harder to pin down than most people realise.
If you asked everyone this question, most of us would answer differently. With some people the differences would be extreme. Some would definitely mention technique, some might suggest that technique is old hat and emotion is all that’s required.
While technique can pin it down for some people, what actually makes a novel a good one can be a nebulous thing. Certainly, not using any technique can make it difficult for anyone to engage in the story, but by the same token, sometimes it’s editors like me and other publishers who spend their time complaining about an author’s lack of technique and the absence of things like point of view, for example, when the average reader wouldn’t even notice it.
I think emotion does play a big part, because emotion is usually what tugs at us when it comes to fiction. So I think that emotion and technique are equally important. Both should be present in a good novel.
But who says I’m right? What do you think makes a good novel?

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