That is what I define as a novel: something that has a beginning, a middle and an end, with characters and a plot that sustain interest from the first sentence to the last. But that is not what I do at all.
I don't much believe in the idea of characters. I write with words, that is all. Whether those words are put in the mouth of this or that character does not matter to me.
The relationship between reader and characters is very difficult. It is even more peculiar than the relationship between the writer and his characters.