Plot vs. Character

17 Oct


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

Ryder Islingltonhttp://ryderislington.wordpress.com

8 Responses to “Plot vs. Character”

  1. Kathleen Kaska October 17, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Nancy,

    Off-beat, quirky characters working against the forces of nature; what a great way to weave plot and character. It’s impossible to separate the two and come out with a great story.

    Kathleen

  2. Selena Robins Musings October 17, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Great thoughts, Nancy!

    I love reading quirky, over the top characters, and I think I’ve even met a few in real life. LOL If a character is going to someone who are like “ordinary” people, then I’d want the plot and circumstances of the story to take that ordinary character and plunk her/him into extraordinary situations, so that their character arc will be more interesting.

    I agree with Kathleen, I don’t think you can have one with the other, as long as they complement each other and keep me turning those pages.

    • nancyelizabethlauzon October 18, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      So true … you don’t need to look far to find quirky characters, they’re everywhere. “I see Quirky People … they don’t know they’re Quirky”, LOL

      Thanks for your comment!

      Nancy

  3. Maggie Toussaint October 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Connecting with characters is critical to me when I’m reading a book, and its what I strive for when I write. Since I write both mystery and romance, my books are both character and plot driven – I hope!!!

    Maggie Toussaint
    ON THE NICKEL

    • nancyelizabethlauzon October 18, 2011 at 10:05 am #

      You’re right, you really can’t have one without the other. Thanks for your comments, Maggie!

      Nancy

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What Do Readers Want? « The Chick Dick Mysteries - October 24, 2011

    […] of a rolling blog tour on the topic of What Do Readers Want? To read previous blog tours, check out Plot vs. Character and Funny Mystery Novels. At the bottom of this post you’ll find the other participants in […]

  2. The Scariest Book I’ve Ever Read « The Chick Dick Mysteries - October 31, 2011

    […] Book I’ve Ever Read. To read previous blog tours, check out What Do Readers Want? and Plot vs. Character. At the bottom of this post you’ll find the other participants in today’s tour, and a link to […]

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