4 Building Blocks for a Novel

Just as a house need bricks to make it complete, there are 4 building blocks needed by a novel in order to make it complete.

Whilst at primary school we constantly wrote stories. I remember sitting in the library corner, legs crossed whilst the teacher read a story. There were a variety of stories ranging from the classics to modern. On completion we would then go and rewrite the story. However, in those days I didn’t really know whether the teachers was doing this to test our listening skills or to test our writing skills. Anyway, as I grew older I realised that all the stories I wrote in those young days had something in common. There all had certain building blocks. It were these blocks which make the novel or story fully rounded. Intentional or not, these building blocks are necessary for any author in order to put a novel together.

So here they are!

Building Blocks


Most people think that the plot is the story. Well I have news for you, it is not . The plot is generally about cause and effect. It is the ‘why’ or ‘the things which happen’ in a story or novel. It’s the events which make up a story. The plot answers questions like ‘how did it happen’ and,’ why did it happen.’ These are things which need to be known when reading a novel. If not there will be confusion as to where the novel is going. Or, if it is going in a particular direction, then why is it going in that direction. So, in order to keep us on track concerning your novel, make sure you have a plot .


All novels have characters. Without them your novel would be a bit empty. A book without characters would be like walking into an empty room. So when we have characters, we need to characterise them. By characterising them we are bringing the characters to life. It makes them feel more like a real person.

You are probably asking how do you characterise your characters? Well, characters can be characterized through painting a picture of their physical description, it can be through their action, their inner thoughts, reaction, speech or dialogue.

So, use these devices and bring those characters to life with a little characterisation. They need it!


A story needs to be told and we need someone to tell it. The 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person’s point of view is the device used to tell a story.

From all these points of view, the 1st and 3rd person is most commonly used. In storytelling writers find this the easiest form of narration. But, you can actually use alternating points of view in the same novel where both the 1st person and 3rd person point of view is used . That’s a bit of an art, but it can and has been done.

So make sure you use the best and appropriate voice to get that story out.


Finally, the last building block is the setting. The setting is not only the environment or the surrounding. The setting includes the time, place and duration of a story. It should also help in establishing the mood and atmosphere. The initial setting does not have to be the same throughout, it can change through the course of the novel.

So guys, next time you are planning to write that novel, bear in mind these building blocks and start climbing.

All the best!

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