14 junio, 2024

Elements of the novel and their characteristics (with examples)

The elements of the novel They are all the components that make the development of this narrative genre possible. In other words, they are the features that give depth and shape to the structure of the narrative text. Now, the novel is a type of literary expression that tells a real or imaginary story in order to entertain.

These elements allow the reader to know the actions, places and circumstances that accompany the protagonists throughout the story. The most relevant factors of a novel are: the characters, the facts and the environment, these in turn generate other components that make the story more complex.

On the other hand, the novel can be made up of some or additional features according to its content. In addition, the presence of the general components comes to be minimized according to the message or the story that is told.

For example, a social novel leaves aside the individual and focuses on the collective. The length and pace of the novel are closely related to the elements that make it up, since without them there would be no story to tell. However, the breadth and complexity of the novel will depend on the criteria and style of the author of the work.


elements of the novel

The essential elements of a novel are the following:

– Characters

The characters are the ones that generate the story that is told in the novel, that is because they are the ones that carry out the actions and the events or circumstances that happen to them. However, they are also the ones who in many cases drive the story, because they can intervene as narrators.

On the other hand, the characters in a novel can be main or secondary, depending on their importance within the narrative, or also leading or antagonistic depending on their psychological characteristics, behavior and the actions they perform.

Necessarily every novel character goes through a process of evolution and change that originates in relation to history and the events that he lives. The following briefly describes the types of characters in a novel.

Main characters

The main characters are the protagonists of the story, they are responsible for the most outstanding actions, decisions and events of the novel. In general, they are endowed with qualities that make them different from others and therefore attractive and interesting to the reading public.


The main characters of the novel Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel García Márquez are: Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza.

in the series Harry Potterthe main character is the wizard Harry Potter and the other main characters are Hermione Granger, Ron Wesley, Albus Dumbledore or Voldemort.

Secondary characters

These characters are closely linked to the story of the main characters, many times their experiences influence the life and decision-making of the protagonists.


Continuing with the example of Love in the time of cholera, The secondary characters are: Juvenal Urbino, Lorenzo Daza, Tránsito Ariza, Lotario Tughut and Aunt Escolástica.

In the case of Harry Potter, the secondary characters would be Sirius Black, Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall or Draco Malfoy.

filler characters

This class of characters are not important in the story, their appearances or interventions are short-lived. In general, filler characters tend to disappear in the development of the novel.


The filler characters of the aforementioned work by Gabriel García Márquez are: Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, América Vicuña, Olimpia Zuleta, Bérbara Lynch and the widow of Nazareth.

Some of the filling characters in the novel about magic and wizardry are Dobby, Lupin, the Dursley family or Neville Longbottom.

– Actions or facts

These elements are related to all the events and occurrences that occur within the story. Generally, they are carried out by the characters that give life to the narrative. The actions or facts happen within a certain time and place.

The actions provide the novel with a narrative and evolutionary twist, by virtue of the fact that they generate problems and, at the same time, resolve conflicts.


fragment of Love in the time of cholera:

“He did not tell anyone that he was leaving, he did not say goodbye to anyone, with the iron secrecy with which he only revealed to his mother the secret of his repressed passion, but on the eve of the trip he consciously committed an ultimate madness of the heart that It could well cost him his life…

“…He put on his Sunday dress at midnight, and played alone under Fermina Daza’s balcony, the love waltz he had composed for her, which only the two of them knew and which was for three years the emblem of their thwarted complicity …”.

fragment of Harry potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:

“Upon reaching the corner, he perceived the first indication that something strange was happening: a cat was looking at a map of the city.

Don’t apologize, my dear sir, because nothing can bother me today! Be glad, because You-Know-Who is finally gone! Even muggles like you should celebrate this happy day!

Good thing it’s dark. I haven’t blushed this much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new ear muffs.

Those people will never understand Harry! He will be famous… a legend… I wouldn’t be surprised if today is known in the future as Harry Potter day! They will write books about Harry…every child in the world will know his name.

«Does it seem…sensible…to entrust Hagrid with something as important as that?»

«To Hagrid, I would trust my life,» said Dumbledore.

– Environment or place

It is simply the space where the characters carry out their actions and the story unfolds. The environment can be real or imaginary, it can also vary according to the development of the narrative.


Continuing with García Márquez’s novel, although the name of a city or country is not specified in it, reference is made to various historical events that allow us to locate the story in the first decades of the 20th century in Colombia.

In the case of Harry Potter, the saga takes place in the 90s of the 20th century in London and nearby regions, in which the magical world of wizards is present.

– Time

This element of the novel refers to the duration of the story that is told, whether in days, months or years. Time endows characters and events with constant changes. This gives the narrative depth and complexity.


fragment of Love in the time of cholera:

“They ended up getting to know each other so much, that before thirty years of marriage they were like the same divided being, and they felt uncomfortable with the frequency with which they guessed their thoughts without intending to… Life had to offer them yet other mortal tests…”.

In the case of Harry Potter, being a saga in which its protagonist is a school-age preteen, the story is told from year to academic year during his stay at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Elements of the adventure novel

The elements of the adventure novel are as follows:


Usually he is one and is taken as a hero for the way he faces the circumstances.


In the adventure novel, the environment where the protagonist performs his actions is usually an extraordinary landscape or out of the ordinary.


The main character’s actions are characterized by feats that require physical effort and enhance the character’s abilities.


The plot within the adventure novel is more relevant than the psychological traits of the main character. This means that the way the story unfolds must be interesting and engaging enough to hold the reader’s attention.


Time usually passes quickly and dynamically. The narration of the story is given in hours or days.

graphic novel elements


In the graphic novel, the story usually revolves around a single character, it is from him that the events and evolutionary changes of the narrative arise.


The setting of the graphic novel is adjusted to the content of the story, that is, it can take place in a city, countryside, street, in a closed space or in a park. The colors of the design will be according to the style of the author.


The graphic novel is a story that is told in images, therefore framing or adjustment must be applied so that they have a proportionate size. The framing is applied the same as in film and television, that is, by means of shots, whether it be a detail shot, a close-up, a general shot or a large close-up.


It refers to the dialogue boxes that simulate the conversation of the characters or the expressions of the narrator.


Onomatopoeia in graphic novels are the sounds or noises that occur within the story.

Elements of the horror novel


The characters in the horror novel have psychological characteristics that determine their actions. They are usually subjects taken from the paranormal world, zombies, vampires or ghosts.


The atmosphere is characterized by being gloomy and scary. The actions almost always take place in abandoned and aesthetically deprived spaces.


Suspense is an essential element in horror novels, because thanks to it the reader remains attentive to the narrative. It becomes present in prolonged times of silence or through the appearance of a mysterious character.


The horror novel does not exist without mystery, this occurs when a character or event breaks with the tranquility of everyday life.


The time within horror novels is marked by the irruption of the paranormal element. His presence usually lasts from the beginning to the end of the narrative. Similarly, history can take place in the past, present or future.

Elements of the detective novel


It is usually represented by an investigator, journalist or police officer looking for clues to resolve some type of conflict or criminal act. The protagonist may have a right hand that helps him find the suspect.


It is the main motivation of the story by virtue of the fact that it produces the actions that develop the narrative. At first, it does not produce strong results, but rather makes the plot more interesting with each step that is taken to solve the case.


It is one of the main attractions of the detective novel because it generates the exchange of actions and ideas between the investigator and the investigated. The tension can be marked by murders, robberies, persecutions, arrests, interrogations or kidnappings.


The environment of the detective novel presents an atmosphere of constant tension and suspense, since any clue puts the characters on alert. On the other hand, the actions can take place in any space or place, it is only necessary that there be a question or an aspect to investigate.


The novel and the elements that compose it. (2019). (N/a): Spacebooks. Com. Recovered from: espaciolibros.com.

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