Techniques of the Novel

There are several major techniques that novelists employ to make their novels rich in meaning and rewarding to the reader, including point of view, style, and symbolism. Novelists also use a number of minor devices such as imagery and irony. The most important decision an author must make when writing a novel is what point of view to use. The point of view determines the limitations and freedoms that the author has in presenting the plot and theme to the reader. Readers will experience a book differently depending on whether they know everything that is occurring in the story and all the characters’ thoughts, or whether they have a more limited perspective, such as knowing only what one particular character knows. A novelist’s style is the approach the writer takes in putting together words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.

Style can determine the pace at which the story is told and how directly the author relates the story to the reader. Many novelists deepen the meaning of their stories by employing symbolism, the use of objects or ideas as symbols that represent other, more abstract concepts. With symbols, authors can write scenes that deepen the reader’s understanding of the theme of the novel. This occurs because the symbols have an unspoken meaning beyond their immediate presence in the story. Symbolism thus allows the author to address controversial matters, such as political or religious issues, without openly discussing these subjects. Novelists also use many other literary devices, including imagery and irony. By using these devices, writers avoid the need to state every piece of information they wish to convey. Instead, the literary devices give readers the opportunity to discover themselves the layers of meaning in a novel.

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