Criteria for a Good Novel - FICTION EXAM

Michael Stutz Intro To Fiction Final Dr. Burchmore 3-14-9O

First and foremost, I'm going to define what I believe is the

ultimate purpose of novels.

To me, the novel's prime purpose in life

is to gain some sort of insight on life itself - it should be realistic so that you 'lose yourself' in it. This insight can be gained in many

ways, such as by a philosophical viewpoint that the novel takes, a funny or comical view of something in the novel, or anything really, just as long as the reader learns something. 'about life' after that. Anything. (But we have to stick

If all you learn is that Abe Lincoln was

a US President, it's not a novel, you could read a fourth grade history book for that. So you have to learn something about life and living,

especially as it relates to life on this planet.) Now that my definition is clear (I hope), I can define the criteria for a good novel. above. Above all, it must fulfill the definition

It can do this using any/all of the techniques below, and

probably many more that I just haven't thought of right now at this moment: Characterization: REAL people. No Batmans or soap opera types, but

people that you run into in everyday life, or ones that you WISH you'd run into. I can't say I've

ever known a Cliff Huxtable, but I've encountered many a Jason Compson. Description, Imagery: I want lots of good descriptions and imagery that is useful (relates to themes and ideas). Good

stuff will make you want to read a book at one sitting, and good images will remain in your memory for a long time. (I still remember

reading Joyce's "The Boarding House" and the images that the poor Irish house was given.)


I like suprises, but if a plot is all suprise and just a trip from point A to point B, it's boring and no fun to read, especially the second time around. So I like complex plots that use all of

these other things and tie it all back to the theme. Setting: The more interprative the better. I will NOT read I like

I'm VERY myopic about this.

anything about Russia, Europe, or Egypt.

settings that I can relate to, so American novels only, please. Motifs: To me a novel is like a piece of music, and motifs, like music, blend the themes together, sometimes recurring at different volume levels and tones. I like that. Tone, Atmosphere: This kind of stuff I really get into, also. To me, atmosphere and tone are EXTREMELY important elements of fiction, partly because they portray the author's feeling, and if you don't know the feeling, you can't interpret it. anyway) Point of View: I put trust in the author in that he/she has (Well, to me,

written the novel in the best point of view for it. (Does this make sense?)

And now, my two favorites and two worst: WORST Moll Flanders: I respect DeFoe, he was the first novel writer, and

his journalistic quality is really getting 'hip' again, with people like Thomas Woolfe and the New

Journalism (there's nothing new under the sun). But, the characters were so shallow and it was so old of a book that it got in the way of my reading. Pride and Prejudice:The characters were like "Dangerous Liasons", they didn't do anything. Unless I win the lottery,

I'll never be able to relate to them. BEST The Sound and the Fury:If I could only get MY thoughts down on paper like Faulkner did!! Native Son: It was gripping and it made me look at racial prejudice from a different perspective. That's

one thing I really can't stand and so I was intrigued while reading this novel. Besides,

when I was at the library taking it out, this old man said to me, "I saw that play 35 years ago at the Hanna." enjoyed it. And his eyes lit up like he really

Michael Stutz 3/14/90