7 Intrinsic Elements of a Novel You Must Know

Intrinsic Elements of Novels – Sinaumed’s must be familiar with the existence of novels? Or even Sinaumed’s is a fan of novels of any genre, be it Indonesian-language novels or translated novels?

Novels of any genre, both in Indonesian and in translation, must have both intrinsic and extrinsic elements. Yep, all kinds of works of fiction certainly have building elements, including a novel. The intrinsic elements of this novel are more or less the same as the intrinsic elements of a short story, because both are products of prose.

The building elements in a novel will later be closely linked through the telling of the story, which is carried out by the novelist. If a novel is often called “totality”, then it means that the words and language used in it are the key to the totality of the novel’s existence. Then actually, what is the intrinsic element of the novel? What are the intrinsic elements alias building blocks in a novel? So, so that Sinaumed’s understands this, let’s look at the following review!

What’s the difference between a novel and a short story?

Novels and short stories are both forms of prose literature which are often called fiction. The term “novel” comes from the Italian word “novella” which means ‘short story in prose’. Although actually, the novel and the novelette actually have differences, namely in the novelette is a work of fiction with sufficient length, meaning not too long, but not too short either.

The difference between a novel and a short story can be seen in terms of the formality of the form, you know , namely the length of the story. Yep, a short story, aka short story, usually has an average story length, as if it can be finished reading in one sitting (approximately two hours). Meanwhile, novels usually have hundreds of pages, making it too difficult to finish in just two hours, or even days.

Since the length of the story in this novel and short story is different, it means that the process of elaborating the story is also different. Novels are more able to express the contents of the story freely, in more detail, in more detail so that the reader can have a detailed imagination. Meanwhile, in short stories, the process of conveying the contents of the story is limited, only telling the important plot. But even so, a short story actually “demands” the existence of unity in its denser elements.

Even though the two are different, each of these works of fiction has its advantages. The strength of a typical novel is its ability to convey the story plot or the problems experienced by the characters to the stage of solving the problem in a complex and full way. Meanwhile, in short stories, their ability to convey plots is denser and only focuses on the problems of the characters.

What are the Intrinsic Elements of a Novel?

In a work of fiction, in order to become a complete and “finished” story, building elements are needed. All works of fiction, in fact, will present the state of the world through words, so that the building elements are described through the words created by the author. The building elements in a novel are grouped into two parts, namely intrinsic and extrinsic elements.

Intrinsic elements are the elements that build the literary work itself directly. These elements cause a text to exist as a literary text. The integration between various intrinsic elements is what makes a novel tangible. The elements in question are theme, plot, setting, characterization, storytelling point of view, style of language, morals, and others.

What Are the Intrinsic Elements of a Novel?

1. Theme

Basically, the theme is a general basic idea that supports a literary work and is abstract in nature which is repeatedly raised through intrinsic elements alias implicitly. To find the existence of a theme in a novel, it must be concluded from the existence of the whole story, not only in certain parts. Indeed, its existence seems to be “hidden” because it is too abstract to be found. Although it is not uncommon, it is often found that there are certain sentences or paragraphs which state the main theme of the novel. Typically, themes can be social, historical, adventure, love, and others.

The theme in the novel will generally raise certain life problems that are universal. That is, this theme has been or will be experienced by everyone in any part of the world. Novels often choose various life problems based on individual and group experiences, namely the problem of love which includes love for lovers, parents, and friends. The selection of these themes is subjective which will be processed by the author’s imaginative power.

Integration of Themes with Other Elements

The existence of a theme serves to bind other elements so that they bind into a unified whole. This integration will be briefly described below.

  • Theme with Plot, namely when the reader interprets the theme in the novel, it requires information contained in the plot.
  • Theme with Background, namely the choice of theme will affect the selection of the background as well. Even when some authors already have a certain theme, that theme will later demand the selection of an appropriate setting. If the selection of this setting is not appropriate, it will affect the character elements, causing the story to become less convincing.
  • Themes with Characters. The integration of these two elements mutually influences one another, because the development of characters and characterizations must also be adjusted to the theme of the story.
See also  Geosphere Phenomena: Definition, Kinds, and Examples in Life

Classification of Novel Themes

a) Traditional and Non-Traditional Themes

Traditional themes mean themes in a novel that seem “that-that” only. That is, the use of certain themes that are always applied in any novel causes the reader to easily guess the plot as well as the ending . Even so, the existence of this traditional theme is actually favored by certain social groups so that its existence will “last” until now. Examples are stories about true love that requires sacrifice, stories about good will always win against evil, and others.

Meanwhile, non-traditional themes are themes that are not very common in a novel, so it is not uncommon for the story plot to not meet the expectations of the reader because it is too “against the current” with too many themes. For example, we often read novels where the protagonist will win at the end of the story, then suddenly in a certain novel the antagonist wins. This of course makes us think that the plot is strange.

b) Classification of Themes According to Shipley

  • The theme of the physical level, which is shown in the number of physical activities carried out by characters in fictional works. In short, the conflicts experienced by the characters are mostly in the form of physical activities rather than psychological ones.
  • The theme is at the organic level, which is shown by the many problems of sexuality or sexual relations between the characters. Example: betrayal of husband and wife or sexual scandal. Example of a novel: Saman (Ayu Utami).
  • The theme of the social level, which is indicated by the many social problems throughout the story. These social problems can be in the form of economic, political, economic, cultural problems, to love between people. Examples of novels: Ayat-Ayat Cinta , and Laskar Pelangi .
  • The theme of the egoistic level, which considers humans as individuals who demand their rights to individualism. For example: about identity, self-image, to one’s personality. Example of a novel: Atheist and the Road Has No End .
  • The theme of the divine level, which is indicated by the conflict surrounding the human character with the Creator. Example of a novel: In the Mihrab of Love .

2. Plot or Story Line

The plot contains elements of the storyline in the form of events experienced by the characters up to the process of resolving the conflict. Plot is more accurately called a series of events. According to Stanton (1965), plot is a story that contains a sequence of events, each of which can be linked causally. Nevertheless, according to Abrams (1999) states that the plot is different from the story, because the true plot is the sequential structure of events in a work of fiction.

Rules in Plots

According to Kenny (1966), a plot in fiction has its own rules, namely:

  • Plausibility , namely a plot must be believable in accordance with the logic of the reader. Usually it will be associated with the reality of life in the real world. Even though it is a work of fiction, the storyline must also make sense
  • Suspense , which is able to arouse curiosity in the reader so that they are willing to read it until the end of the story.
  • Surprise , namely being able to surprise the reader in the storyline, as if the reader cannot guess it.
  • Unity , namely the events in the story line must be integrated as a whole. All aspects that are told must be well intertwined and support aspects of one another.

The Stages In The Plot

  • The initial stage, usually will be in the form of character introduction as if inviting the reader to get acquainted with the characters who want to “act” throughout the storyline. Not only the characters, but also the introduction to the setting as well.
  • The middle stage, will usually show the beginning of conflict or conflict. Later, the author will develop the conflict according to his imagination by paying attention to the rules in the plot.
  • The final stage, usually will tell the process of solving the problem along with how the story ends, whether the character will be happy or sad.

3. Characters and Characterizations

According to Abrams, characters are people who are shown in a work of fiction which will be expressed in words and actions. While the term “characterization” has a broader meaning, which includes the names of the characters in the story, what their character is, and how they are depicted in the work of fiction so that readers can understand them.

Character Classification

  • Main Characters and Additional Characters

The main character is the one most told, both as the perpetrator of the incident and as the subject of the incident. Even in certain novels, the main character is always present in every page of the novel. Since this main character is the most talked about character, it means that he will also influence the development of the story plot.

Meanwhile, additional characters are characters who help the main character throughout the storyline, and often their existence is ignored by the reader because they do not really affect the plot.

  • Protagonist and Antagonist Figures

Usually, the protagonist is described as a good character and the antagonist is an evil character. This is not completely wrong

The protagonist is a character whose depiction is in accordance with the views and expectations of the reader. The problems experienced by the protagonist seem to relate to the problems of the readers so that most of them will get empathy from the readers. While the antagonist is a figure who opposes the existence of the protagonist, both in terms of speech and actions. Even though it looks “evil”, the existence of this antagonist will actually make the storyline more exciting and interesting. For example, the presence of the character Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter novels .

  • Simple Figures and Round Figures
See also  difference between thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic

The classification of this character is based on his character. A simple character is a character who has only one personal quality and certain character. The character, attitude, and behavior of this simple character seem flat and monotonous. While round characters are those who have the possibility of another side of life, personality, and identity. Not infrequently, this round character has a certain character that is difficult to predict.

  • Static Figures and Developing Figures

Static characters are story characters who do not experience changes or developments in their character as a result of events that have occurred. Therefore, this static character has a relatively fixed attitude and character, with no development from the beginning to the end of the story.

While developing characters are characters who experience changes and developments in their character in line with the development of events and story plots. This character tends to actively interact with his environment so that it will affect his character. Usually the development of these characters is adjusted to the demands of the logic of the story as a whole.

  • Typical Figures and Neutral Figures

This character classification is based on the reflection of story characters on humans in real life. A typical character is a character who only displays a little of his individuality and more emphasizes the quality of being together with other individuals.

Meanwhile, a neutral character is a character who is solely presented for the sake of the story. In short, this neutral figure does not represent humans in the real world.

4. Background

The setting in a work of fiction does not only indicate a specific location and time when an event will occur, but can also manifest itself in the form of prevailing customs, beliefs and values. The setting in a novel plot has various kinds, namely:

  • Physical Setting and Spiritual Setting

Physical background is a background that clearly shows a certain location that can be seen and felt its presence. For example: in the market, in the school hall, in the meeting hall, and others. The physical setting in a work of fiction can be shown depending on the creativity of the author. Some are detailed, some are just showing off.

Meanwhile, the spiritual background is the values ​​that surround the physical background. So, the existence of this physical background and spiritual background are related to each other.

  • Neutral Background and Functional Background

Neutral background is the designation of a background that is only mentioned without describing certain characteristics of the location or time of occurrence. It is possible that the author deliberately did not intend to highlight the background elements in his fictional work, so he only used this neutral setting.

Meanwhile, a functional setting is a setting that emphasizes the distinctive characteristics of a particular setting, whether it relates to elements of place, time, or socio-culture. Usually, this functional setting will be described in detail about how the social environment is.

5. Point of View

Point of view or point of view is the way or view used by the author as a means to present a work of fiction to the reader. Thus, this point of view will relate to the strategies, techniques and tactics deliberately chosen by the author to convey his ideas and stories.

Viewpoint Classification

  • Third Person Point of View: “He”

Namely, the storytelling of his fiction uses the word “he” to refer to the main character. Usually, it is marked by the use of the character’s name throughout telling the storyline. For example, in the novel Ronggeng Dukung Paruk, which uses the name “Srintil” as a third persona point of view.

  • First Person Point of View: “I”

Namely, the storytelling of the work of fiction uses the word “I” as someone who is directly involved in the storyline. This “I” becomes a character who tells a story, whether it tells himself or someone else to the reader.

This point of view has two types, namely “I” as the main character and “I” as an additional character.

  • Second Person Point of View: “You”

Actually, the use of this point of view is rarely used by any work of fiction. Usually, it’s just a distraction from the style of language. The use of the “You” point of view can be found in the novel Husband by Eddy Suhendro and the novel Burung-Burung Manyar.

  • Mixed Viewpoint

That is when the author tells his fictional work using different points of view.

6. Language style

The style of language in this novel will usually make the storyline look interesting because it is conveyed in a unique way. In fact, this style of language has actually developed according to the development of the spelling of the language. The choice of diction, sentence structure, and the use of cohesion are also included in this language style. Not only that, the use of figure of speech is also part of language style.

7. Morals

Moral is something that the author wants to convey to the reader, usually in a very implicit form. Since literary works are educative or educative, so that every literary work must have a moral that educates its readers. This moral tends to relate to messages or mandates that can be applied in everyday life.

Well, that’s a description of the intrinsic elements of the novel. Is Sinaumed’s often aware of these elements when reading a novel?


Nurgiyantoro, Burhan. (2013). Fiction Study Theory . Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press.

Also Read!

  • 10 Types of Novels, What’s Your Favorite?
  • 8 Differences between Novels and Short Stories from Various Sides
  • Definition of Extrinsic Elements in Novels and Short Stories
  • Get to know Fiction and Non Fiction Stories
  • Short Story vs Novel, What’s the Difference?
  • The Difference Between Elements of Fiction and Non Fiction Books
  • Use of Good and Correct Punctuation
  • What is Popular Literature?
  • Definition of Majestic Metaphor and Examples
  • Understanding and Periodization of Literary Development in Indonesia
  • Get to know the Theory and History of Literature