A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction which describes intimate human experiences, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book. The novel in the modern era usually makes use of a literary prose style. The novel in the modern era usually makes use of a literary prose style, and the development of the prose novel at this time was encouraged by innovations in printing, and the introduction of cheap paper, in the 15th century.Genre novels must adhere to the styles, and conventions of their category in order to meet readers’ expectations. For example, readers of mysteries assume any novel in that genre will start with a crime or threat of a crime, provide clues and possible motives throughout the story, and conclude with a resolution of the problem, i.e., the criminal being brought to justice, or the evil plan being thwarted.
In general, fiction is divided into literary fiction and commercial fiction (also called mainstream fiction). Literary fiction is more concerned with style and characterization than commercial fiction. (Characterization is the author’s expression of a character’s personality through the use of action, dialogue, thought, or commentary by the narrator or another character.) Literary fiction is also usually paced more slowly. Typically it is centered around a timeless, complex theme, and lacks a happy ending. Some examples of literary fiction are books by Toni Morrison and John Updike. On the other hand, mainstream fiction is faster paced, with a stronger plot line, such as more events, higher stakes, and more dangerous situations. The theme is usually obvious and the language used isn’t complex. Also, characterization is generally not as central to the story.
We may say that the novel must contain a single narrative, ruling out collections of short stories, but the novel has been known to break out of this restriction in countless ways. We may demand the novel be fiction, but many authors have woven reality and history into their novels for many reasons. We may ask that a novel be a prose narrative, but novels exists that contain rhythmic structure, either interspersed with prose text or in lieu of it. But in general the novel is a book, between one hundred and one thousand pages long, that tells a single story.