by E.M. Forster
This book was written by an acclaimed fiction writer at the turn of the twentieth century and tries to define what elements make a novel a novel. As a result, this is more of a book on what a novel is than how one should go about writing one. That being said, because it is written by a novelist, it is rather easy to make applications to your own writing.
The book is structured according to the seven elements that Forster believes are essential to a novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy (the extent to which a story reaches toward universal themes), pattern, and rhythm. Each element gets a full chapter on it—with the exception of characters, which get a full two chapters on them as befits their prominent place within the novel.
The best sections of this book are arguably the chapters on characters and plot, as in these chapters Forster gives some of the best descriptions of what makes a novel quintessentially a novel. Forster does a really good job of pointing out how the depiction of the internal life of the character is what makes a novel quintessentially a novel, as well as how this natural tendency of the novel ends up making plot less important. [Read more…]