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Characters vs Plot…

June 15, 2012

Character development versus plot development. Which one drives the story? Which one is more important to making things move along?

I think that depends.

I have listened to speakers talk about the importance of character development. They have to be “real”. They have to make logical, or believable, choices. Characters need to be presented in a way we can relate to them.

I agree. This is true.

Then, there are those who say Plot is more important. What the characters are doing, have to do, and struggle with needs to be developed before the characters have anything to do. Why are they even there?

This is also true.

Durant Imboden has a great article on this very topic at titled Character vs Plot (catchy, eh?). When I read this article I began thinking about how I went about developing a story concept. It was funny, really, that I hadn’t really thought about that fundamental step before. It was just something I did.

I think, in the end, I do a mixture of things. First I write a summary of the story idea, my road map. This is just a simple brain dump, a stream of conscience. I don’t try to figure it all out right away. When that is done I look it over and begin to fill in the gaps. How do I make the action flow. For me Characters are more about moving the action along than anything. They are the window for the reader to get into the world I want them to experience.

There are stories out there where the whole plot centers around the main character’s ability to overcome some personal limitation. Those, if done right, are very powerful. For me, these are a bit more difficult to write.

In the end, it all comes down to you, oh Creative One. What do you want to do? What do you want to write? What is driving your story? Character or plot? I recommend determining this before you begin, otherwise you may end up with neither character nor plot.


From → Writing

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