The Pentacle Queen wrote:
Could you explain further?
What theoreticlaly would make a novel great?
Sure, I'll give it a shot. First the writing. The use and choice of words. The power of the words and the images that the words create. A facility with language that's unique and specific to the writer and to the work that's being written.
Next, characters that are fully formed, complex, and believable. With inner life as well as actions.
A plot that is coherent and intelligent and that moves forward almost on its own power.
These three things must combine to create a reality, even if it exists only in words and in our mind's eye. And there's the intangible quality--talent. A gift that is almost indefinable. But without it, the book just doesn't work.
I read a book a while back that was exquisitely written. I actually stopped occasionally to admire the writing. I stopped and reread a line or a paragraph to admire the words. The characters were fully drawn. The plot moved me forward. But I was bored. That intangible element--at least for me--was missing.
There are books that have all the qualities needed to be considered great. I admire the writing. I believe the characters. The plot moves me forward. The writer has talent. But I don't necessarily like the book. I can admire and respect what the writer has achieved and can acknowledge that it may be a great book. But my own personal taste requires more. Passion, powerful emotion.
I'm sure that more astute and knowledgeable students of literature could come up with more elements that make a book great. It's possible that I used to know more and forgot them. But the things I mention here are the what have remained with me and that are necessary for me.