Evolution of Style in Nicholas Sparks’ Novels

Master's Thesis, 2017

45 Pages, Grade: 10


Table of Content



1.1.Background of the study
1.2. The Goal of this study
1.3. The Outline of the study

2.1. Theory of Style
2.2. Literary figures in Sparks’ novels
2.2.1. Metaphor
2.2.2. Irony
2.3. Critics about Sparks

3.1. Research design
3.2. Research Questions
3.2.1. Hypothesis

4.1. “The Notebook”
4.1.1. Summary
4.1.2. Nicholas’ Sparks narrative style
4.1.3. Figurative Language
4.1.4. The portrayal of the main characters
4.2.”The Best of Me”
4.2.1. Summary
4.2.2. Nicholas Sparks’ narrative style
4.2.3. Figurative Language
4.2.2. The Portrayal of the main characters
4.3. Similarities and Differences between the two novels
4.4. Analysis

Closing remarks


This study focuses on the style of the author Nicholas Sparks in his two novels: “The Notebook” and “The best of me”. These two novels appeared at two important phases of his development as an author: the first one at the outset of his career and the other one at a time when he was already an acclaimed author.

The main objectives are to analyze his style and to study its evolution over fifteen years by comparing his two masterpieces. In the end I summarize the main features of his style and draw conclusions about the development of his artistic creativity in general and his style in particular.

Key words: The Notebook, The best of me, Style, Evolution, Literary figures.


After an intensive period of two months today is the day: writing this note of thanks is the finishing touch on my thesis and it has been a period of intense learning for me.

First I would like to thank my supervisor from AAB University Xhavit Rexhaj. You supported me greatly and were always willing to help me and especially I want to thank you for your excellent cooperation and for all of the opportunities I was given. You definitely provided me with the tools that I needed to choose the right direction and successfully complete my thesis.

Also I would like to thank the committee, Prof. Ass. Venera Llunji and Prof. Ass. Hysen Kasumi for your support and advice.

I would like to thank my family, particularly my parents, my sister and my brother, thank you for loving me, supporting me, and believing in me. Without you, I would not be here today.

And the person I want to thank the most is my husband PATRIOT, who has been all these times a boosting factor for me to work more and harder. This would not have been possible without his support. I am very proud of him for his encouraging and helpful virtues. Thank you for being here every time I needed you. P.S: I love you


1.1.Background of the study

It is often recognized that authors have inherent literary styles which serves as “fingerprints” for their written works. Thus in principle, one should be able to determine the authorship of unsigned manuscripts by carefully analyzing the style of the text. The difficulty lies in characterizing the style of each author, i.e. determining which sets of features in a text most accurately summarize an author’s style” (Hengartner, p. 1)

Nowadays most of people read novels especially romantic novels but they read only the story as a preface without knowing the point of view, style, literary devices or tone etc. While reading a novel or a book, we must connect ourselves to the story or character or maybe to emotions in order to have that feeling.

This study will concentrate in two novels of Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook and The best of me.

Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska on December 31, 1965, son of Patrick Michael (1942-1996) and Jill Emma Marie Sparks (1942-1989). During his childhood he moved around a lot with his family and lived in multiple locations like, Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska, finally settling in Fair Oaks, California at the age of eight.

His father was a professor, his mother was a homemaker, then an optometrist’s assistant. He lived in Fair Oaks until he finished high school, he graduated valedictorian in 1984, and received a full scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. Nicholas Sparks as a freshman was part of a relay team and broke the Notre Dame school record in 1985, a record which still stands, but he was injured and spent the summer recovering. During that summer, he wrote his first novel, but it was never published.

However, Nicholas’s written work was greatly affected when his parents tragically passed away. Nicholas’ past has impacted him to write tragic love stories and he said that some of the characters in his novels are based on people who were exceptionally unique to him. He also writes about small towns in many of his novels since he grew up in a small town. Overall Nicholas writes tragic love stories because most people remember them the best.

Nicholas Sparks is currently 52 years old and has a wife named Cathy who is 51 years old. He met Cathy one year on spring break and ever since then they have been together and the following year they got married on July 22, 1989. They have five children: Miles, Ryan, Landon, Savannah, and Lexie. They all currently live in North Carolina where Nicholas grew.

Since the start of his profession his books have been New York Times bestsellers and turned into an remarkable success, they have been translated in more than 50 languages with over 105 million copies sold worldwide. Nearly 65.000 copies of his books have been sold in the Philippines and 75 million copies in the United States. Nicholas’ fame keeps on developing as he is granted for a considerable number of his works. He plans to continue writing more books in the future with the goal so that he can keep on inspiring his readers.

Sparks wrote one of his best-known story, The Notebook, in a period over six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 and he followed with the novels, Message in a Bottle (1998), A walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice (2007), The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010), The Best of Me (2011), and The Longest Ride (2013). His eighteenth novel See Me, published on October 12, 2015. His newest book, Two by Two, was published on October 4, 2016. Nicholas Sparks novels that turned into movies, including The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The lucky One, Message in a Bottle, A walk to remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John and The Last Song, have had an expanding overall gross of more than seventy-five percent of billions dollars.

The major objective of this study will concentrate on the two novels mentioned above, and the main objectives are to analyze his narrative style that is used in the novels and to study its evolution over fifteen years by comparing his two master pieces and to describe how his figurative speech appear in literature because his works are characterized by a uniform style throughout his career.

The reason I chose these two novels is that almost everyone had seen the movies but they still do not know who Nicholas Sparks is since he writes in such a way by using figurative speech elements to catch the attention of the reader.

The author in the novels that he chose will tell what technique used Nicholas Sparks, was it used in both novels, or did it change through fifteen years, and why did he used that technique.

The author will also give definitions of the key idea : “narrative technique”.

The author will lay out a set of elements that intends to observe are: Is the focus on character as it develops or stays the same?

In other words, which elements of his novels are central to their plot development and do these change or develop over the fifteen years.

What person’ point of view did Nicholas used in both novels, or did he used the same person’ point of view to tell the stories, and why this technique was important to him.

How is Nicholas Sparks narrative style in both novels, and did it evolve in time.

The author will also describe the similarities and differences between the two novels.

How does Nicholas Sparks portrays the characters in both novels.

What other literary devices Nicholas used in his novels, where those used in both novels or did he gained that skill through time.

The author will describe what literary devices did Nicholas used in both novels, and how these evolved through time.

I think that if we understand Nicholas’ Sparks style, we can understand his novels and also we can understand the novels of our more modern writers like Albatros’ Rexhaj etc.

1.2. The Goal of this study

This study will give the positive knowledge for the literature and style of Nicholas’ Sparks novels and is especially expected to introduce this author and the main aspects of his works to the Kosovo readership.

There are some educational implications that can be taken from this research: 1) the novels contain information about the culture in America, 2) this research can improve English skills and vocabulary in order to understand the terminologies used in both novels, 3) both novels contain moral values and to teach them to the students.

Based on the main object of this analysis, there are questions such as:

What are the main characteristics of Nicholas Sparks’ narrative style? How did Nicholas’s style evolve over fifteen years? How does he portray his main characters?

How does he apply literary figures in his novels?

Hypothesis: There is no evolution of style in Nicholas Sparks’ novels “The Notebook and “The best of me”.

1.3. The Outline of the study

Title: Evolution of style of Nicholas’ Sparks novels.

I. Introduction:

A. The outline of this research paper will include the Introduction where the author will write the biography of Nicholas Sparks and the success he gained throughout his career as a young writer.

B. The writer also describes the goal of this study, the questions and the hypothesis.

II: Theory Section:

A. In the Theory Section the author will write about theory of style which will be based on three to four books and articles, it is described what style is, what other authors say about style, why style is important in literature.

B. The author in this research paper, in the analysis of literary figures is based only in the two main figures that are mostly appeared in his novels, those two figures are irony and metaphor. The study of literary figure in the novels “The Notebook” and “The Best of Me” is a very important fact because by understanding Nicholas’ Sparks style we can also understand his novels.

C. It is also outlined in chapter description of one critique chosen by the author.

III: Methodology:

A. In the chapter three the author will describe Methodology, the author writes about literary theory, literary criticism, biography of Nicholas Sparks and some of Nicholas’ Sparks novels.

B. The writer describes the technique that was used to gather data.

C. In this chapter it is outlined how the data’s were gathered, development and classifying into figures of speech.

IV: Discussion and Analysis:

A. From the above chapters we will make discussion and analysis of the two novels “The Notebook” and “The best of me” written by Nicholas Sparks.

B. It will be described how Nicholas’ Sparks style evolved throughout fifteen years, what is Nicholas’ Sparks narrative style and how his figurative speech appeared in literature and the portrayal of the main characters in both novels.

V. Conclusion:

A. The Conclusion covers the results of all chapters.

B. At the end will be outlined and proved if Nicholas’s Sparks style evolved or not.


2.1. Theory of Style

A writer’s style can be seen as a personal and creative use of different languages. According to Crystal and Davy, “Style may refer to some or all the language habits of one person as when we talk of Shakespeare’s style (or styles) …or when we discuss the question of disputed authorship… More often, it refers in this way to a selection of language habits, the occasional linguistic idiosyncrasies which characterize an individual’s uniqueness.…style may refer to some or all of the language habits shared by a group of people at one time, or over a period of time, as when we talk about the style of Augustan poets, the style Old English ‘heroic’ poetry, the style in which civil service forms are written, or styles of public-speaking”. (1969.pp.9-10)

Stylistic is the study of style. The definition of stylistics means that style is formed by the utilization of the languages in literature, and this utilization can be creative, expressional or situational.”(shodhganga)

Stylistics defines the style that is found in author’s literary work . An author uses dialect as indicated by his own particular inventive and open needs. He frequently forms and alters the assets of dialect accessible to him and rolls out specific improvements and adjustments in the current structures and examples of language.

He additionally once in a while goes astray from the ordinary use and abuses semantic standards. Along these lines, he makes expressions and novel etymological structures and examples. He likewise delivers fore-grounded components in language.

“The aim of stylistics is to analyze language habits with the main purpose of identifying from the general mass of linguistic features common to English as used on every conceivable occasion, those features are restricted to certain kinds of social context”. (David crystal, 1969).

The creator will do a segregating choice from the sounds, words, sentence structures, sense structures offered by conventional dialect; once in a while the creator will impact an expansion, a specific extending past accessible dialect material; every so often the creator will enjoy a deviation from or a changes of dialect standards; lastly there will be events when the creator will even face a mutilation of dialect material. All these inventive endeavors to his imaginative, tasteful and expressive utilization of dialect and subsequently to his individual style. The premise of style, in this manner, is the utilization of dialect as a medium of writing, in whatever way writer utilizes this medium.

“Style is an increment in writing. When we speak of Fitzgerald's style, we don't mean his command of the relative pronoun; we mean the sound his words make on paper”(Jr).

All authors, by the way they utilize the dialect, uncover something of their spirits, their propensities, their abilities, and their predispositions. This is unavoidable and in addition agreeable. All writing is correspondence; experimental writing is correspondence through disclosure — it is the self getting away beyond any confining influence. “No writer long remains incognito” (Jr)

2.2. Literary figures in Sparks’ novels

Literature figures are also known as Literary Devices. Literary devices are some kind of dialect instruments which are utilized by artists and writers to make curiosity and uniqueness in dialect. The uses of these devices make the language of a writer different from the language of another writer. Moreover, the exclusiveness and uniqueness of a writer lies in using the literary devices in his literary work. When a writer or a poet makes special use of language, his work of literature becomes very attractive and beautiful and people highly appreciate it.

These literary devices, thus, are used to make a piece of literature a work of beauty so that the readers while reading it could go through an aesthetic experience. English language is flexible having great qualities to intrigue the readers by its magnificence of portrayal and expression. The specific quality originates from inside through its immense assortment of employments.

It has some particular classifications of words called figures of speech. It is a method of expression in which words are utilized out of their exacting significance or conventional use to make an impact, regularly where they don't have their unique or literal meaning.

“It is also used to add beauty, intensify emotion and present a meaning familiar to reader by comparing one thing with another. As an integral part of language, figures of speech are found in oral literatures as well as in everyday speech. Common figures of speech include simile, metaphor, personification, irony etc”. (Nezami, 2012)

In this analysis of the two novels “The Notebook” and “The Best of Me” we will discuss only metaphor and irony.

2.2.1. Metaphor

In classical theories of language, metaphor was seen as a matter of language not thought. Metaphorical expressions were assumed to be mutually exclusive with the realm of ordinary everyday language: everyday language had no metaphor, and metaphor used mechanisms outside the realm of everyday conventional language. The classical theory was taken so much for granted over the centuries that many people didn’t realize that it was just a theory. The theory was not merely taken to be true, but came to be taken as definitional. The word metaphor was defined as a novel or poetic linguistic expression where one or more words for a concept are used outside of its normal conventional meaning to express a similar concept. In short, the locus of metaphor is not in language at all, but in the way we conceptualize one mental domain in terms of another. The general theory of metaphor is given by characterizing such cross domain mappings. And in the process, everyday abstract concepts like time, states, change, causation, and purpose also turn out to be metaphorical. The result is that metaphor (that is, cross-domain mapping) is absolutely central to ordinary natural language semantics, and that the study of literary metaphor is an extension of the study of everyday metaphor. Everyday metaphor is characterized by a huge system of thousands of cross-domain mappings, and this system is made use of in novel metaphor”. (Lakoff, 1992) Metaphor is the general term for the figure of resemblance, whereby one thing is likened to another.(Bennet) A Metaphor is an implied simile and a comparison, between two dissimilar things or persons on all points, is cent per cent made that actually has something in common. For example, we can say: The camel is the ship of desert. Life is a dream.

It is also a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one object or idea is applied to another, thereby suggesting a likeness or analogy between them. (Nezami, 2012)


1.“Thousands of them, a meadow of fireworks stretching nearly to the steps of the cottage, a sea of red and orange and purple and blue and yellow” (Sparks, The Best of Me, 2011)
2.“He is a stranger now. He cannot be stopped . . . he is a midnight bandit, masked and fleeing on horseback from sleepy desert towns, charging into yellow moons with gold dust in his saddlebags”. (Sparks, The Notebook, 1996)

2.2.2. Irony

Irony is a literary technique and rhetoric device that has been used for many years in everyday life. Even though irony has been used for a long time, there hasn’t been an exact definition of the word itself. Irony is a figure of speech which is a contradiction between what is expected and what actually occurs. It involves a contrast between appearance and actual reality”. (Man)

1.” Don’t see her, but I can hear her puttering around inside the house”.(Sparks, The Best of Me, 2011)
2. Ironically, as Allie is driving over the drawbridge less than four minutes later, Lon calls from the courthouse. He just misses his chance to convince her to stay with him. (Sparks, The Notebook, 1996)

2.3. Critics about Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is a successful American novelist and he generally writes about love story. The novels he’d written became New York Times best sellers and have been translated into different languages and these books give many examples to make our lives better.

The author couldn’t find critics or other writer’s critics about Sparks. But there is one that seemed interesting to cite from “New York Times “in 2014.

In the latest weepathon from the Nicholas Sparks suds factory, the star-crossed lovers in “ The Best of Me ,” in the years they are apart, detect signs every so often that they share a mystical, spiritual bond.

Reconnecting after a 20-year separation, Dawson Cole and his childhood sweetheart, Amanda Collier, discover that although they were separated by geography, they listened to the same song at the same time, while dreaming of each other.

And, on two occasions, when Dawson is near death, a vision of his sweetheart appears to him. Dawson has a habit of gazing up at the stars and musing out loud about destiny. And Mr. Marsden, still a perfect specimen at 41, has the pin wheeling blue eyes that signal infinite depths of feeling. Ms. Monaghan does not have the same light in her eyes and the performance by this usually reliable actress is stiff and guarded.

The two come from opposite sides of the tracks in a small Louisiana town. Dawson’s glowering father and siblings are dentally challenged, gun-toting hillbilly roughnecks who viciously abuse the sensitive Dawson. Amanda is from a “good” family, and her disdainful father offers to pay for Dawson’s college education if he breaks off the relationship.

The young Dawson and Amanda look and act nothing like their grown-up selves. When they meet again, she is unhappily married, with a teenage son, and he has been working on an oil rig after serving time for an accidental shooting. What brings him home is the reading of a will after the death of his avuncular mentor and guardian angel, Tuck, the movie’s omniscient commentator.Top of FormBottom of Form

But enough about the plot, of which there are yards and yards, none of it particularly believable or compelling, except in the most generalized way. The only thing “The Best of Me” really wants is to weave a teary-eyed romantic spell by any means necessary. The screenplay is so haphazardly constructed that when the movie seems to be ending, it refuels with preposterous new developments. The teenage girls sitting around me at the screening, who had sighed wistfully at the lovers’ first kiss, eventually lost patience and began to giggle. Even the movie’s target audience recognized when “The Best of Me” became too much of a bad thing”. (Holden, 2014)


Based on the background of the study, my research is about the study of Nicholas Sparks’ literary style that is applied in his two novels.

The major objective of this study will concentrate on the two novels “The Notebook” and “The best of me” by Nicholas Sparks. These two novels appeared at two important phases of his development as an author: the first one at the outset of his career and the other one at a time when he was already an acclaimed author.

The main objectives are to analyze his style and to study its evolution over fifteen years by comparing his two masterpieces.

The theory section contains literary theory and it was a combination of many well-known books from different authors. The reason was I wanted to express different thoughts by different authors, not only particular thought by particular author. In theory section the books were selected in order to give definitions of stylistic and style, since the major objective of this study is the comparing of two masterpieces of Nicholas Sparks, the style Nicholas used in both novels in a difference of fifteen years and the figurative language.

While reading the novels I was concentrated on the use of figurative speech: Metaphor and Irony.

3.1. Research design

The data used on the research have been collected with the library research. The purpose is to analyze Nicholas Sparks’ novels “The Notebook” and “The Best of Me” because there are those who say that his works are characterized by a uniform of style throughout his career.

Then, the type of the data and the data source are divided into two groups.

There are primary data source and secondary data source.

Primary data source are called the main data and the secondary data source are called the data taken from other sources. Primary data are obtained from the sentences in the novels of Nicholas Sparks “The Notebook” and “The best of me”, and the secondary data are supportive data, means that those data are taken from literary books, essays, articles, and journals, and also taken from the internet.

And the technique of collecting data in this research are as follows: 1) reading the novels repeatedly and understanding the contents, 2) reading some other sources related to the novels, 3) giving marks to particular parts in the novel, which are considered important for the analysis, 4) taking notes for essential parts both in primary and secondary data sources, 5) classifying and developing the data into categories of figures of speech.

The last technique of the data analysis is descriptive analysis technique. The researcher will describe the structural elements of the novels and the collected data will be interpreted and analyzed in details.

Then drawing conclusion based on the analysis.

3.2. Research Questions

a. What are the main characteristics of Nicholas Sparks’ narrative style?
b. How did Nicholas Sparks’ style evolve over fifteen years?
c. How does he portray his main character?
d. How does he apply literary figures in his novels?

3.2.1. Hypothesis

In analyzing this study we started from the main hypothesis that: There is no evolution of style in Nicholas Sparks’ novels “The Notebook” and “The Best of Me”. This hypothesis and the questions above lead us through the entire process of the research in this study.


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Evolution of Style in Nicholas Sparks’ Novels
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Arbresha Klaiqi (Author), 2017, Evolution of Style in Nicholas Sparks’ Novels, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/423827


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