This is the first post of a rolling blog tour on the topic of Plot vs. Character. To read previous blog tours, check out Funny Mystery Novels, and Where’s Papa Going With That Ax? At the bottom of this post you’ll find the other participants in today’s tour, and a link to the next article in the series.
There’s an age old boxing match writers have regarding plot vs. character, and which one is more important: in other words, which one should drive the story? I’ve never understood why it’s such a hot topic, and I’ve touched on this in previous blogs. I believe that ideally, plot events should evolve out of character action and decision, which means the two elements are forever linked, like a ball and chain.
But when it comes to specific genres, there is a difference between plot-driven and character-driven stories. Mysteries, crime thrillers, historicals, and fantasy are mostly plot-driven, because often the events that occur — a crime, a civil war, a search for a precious artifact – are beyond the main character’s control. The character is at the mercy of the forces of history or nature, and is reacting to events as they unfold.
A romance is a good example of a character-driven story. A romance heroine might manipulate circumstances to throw herself into the path of the hero. Or the hero might move heaven and earth to win the love of his lady.
Clearly, the best novels have elements of both. I love mysteries (obviously, since I write them) and I love to solve the puzzles that mystery plots present, but I especially enjoy stories that allow the reader to connect with the characters on the deepest, emotional level. Because that’s when I really start to care about them. The more unusual the character, the better. All too often, novels present characters who remind me of ordinary people I meet everyday. The best characters are flawed, problematic, hysterical, crazy, off-beat and quirky. Yes, they may be hard to love. But that’s what makes them great.
Check out the next stops on the blog tour:
Kathleen Kaska http://www.kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com
Mollie Cox Bryan http://www.molliecoxbryan.com
Sarah Wisseman http://www.sarahwisseman.blogspot.com