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One of the longest forms of Prose Fiction and the source of many a Doorstopper. The novel is one of the most popular forms of literary fiction, and has made the fortune of several writers.

The form came into its own during the 19th century. At that time, writers, as members of a still fairly young profession, moved away from emulating the classic forms of epic poetry and satire and began spending more time with narratives that offered a more intimate relationship with the characters. Making use of first person perspective and/or the free indirect style, authors of this distinctly new style of storytelling were able to explore character to a greater depth, while sometimes eschewing well-developed plots (though this is not always the case; there have been many great novelists who have balanced the demands of plot and character with finesse).


The trend was for these tales to get longer and longer, as authors sought to fully exhaust the topics they were tackling. What had begun as short stories transformed into stand-alone narratives published in book form: the novel.

Pioneers of the novel include 18th century writers such as Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), Henry Fielding (The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling), and Samuel Richardson (Pamela). Jane Austen might be considered the codifier of the novel. By most modern definitions, The Tale of Genji, written in the 11th century and attributed to Murasaki Shikibu, was the first written novel and the first modern novel.

A novel can be any work of fiction longer than about 40 or 50 thousand words (the exact figure is debatable), though modern publishing often place a minimum length of at least 70 thousand words, and sometimes as high as 100 thousand. Novels tend to have very complex plots with several conflicts that drive them.


Compare: Novella, Novelette, Short Story.

Subtypes and derivations of the novel form include (list not mutually exclusive):

For more information see "the other wiki."



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